On Friday night at Cage Legacy 2 Cork's Arann Maguire (0-1) will serve as one half of the main event. His opponent will be fellow amateur MMA standout Hughie O'Rourke (0-0) in a fight that was originally set to happen at Cage Warriors 81 in Dublin.
Maguire had a stellar amateur career that saw him lift legit titles in Ireland. Because of this his professional debut was hotly anticipated. However, when he made his debut in September last year against Neil Ward things did not go to plan and Maguire saw himself on the losing end of a decision.
Some fighters would get discouraged by this but Maguire says he has learned from that fight and how he prepares for fights.
"I am very disappointed with that performance," said Maguire. "Neil is a very good fighter but I didn’t show what I’m capable of in there. That won’t happen again. I’ve been much more structured in my training since and this time round I’m fitter, healthier and I have prepared specifically for my opponent’s style."
Maguire's bad news continued when he was forced to withdraw from his fight with O'Rourke last month and he explained what happened and explained that previous experiences helped his decision to withdraw from the fight.
"I ended up with a bad chest infection the week of the fight and was forced to pull out. I’ve fought sick twice before and it hasn’t gone well so there was no chance I was going to continue cutting weight and trying to fight. As I’ve said earlier, I’ve learned from my mistakes. I am happy though that we’ve been able to reschedule the fight. I really look forward to it."
And it is this chest infection that is the reason that this fight will be at a catchweight of 140lbs. Maguire said he "didn’t want to risk losing too much weight so soon after being sick" so both fighters agreed to do it at 140lbs.
Anyone who followed the amateur Irish MMA scene know that Maguire and O'Rourke were two of the nation's leading amateur fighters. Maguire is aware of this and is complementary towards his opponent but says he is this better fighter.
"I think Hughie is a well-rounded fighter," stated Maguire. "He is dangerous in all areas and I’m expecting a tough fight from him. He had a very strong amateur career and we both won different belts and fought very tough guys so yes, I can see similarities between us.
"But to be honest, I feel I’m going to be the better fighter everywhere. I am more than prepared for whatever situation I find myself in and I am just as happy to strike as I am to grapple."
Changing up topics, we talked about what a normal week would be for the BJJ Cork fighter and what things are like training at that gym.
"Haha, I don’t think you could call it a normal. I share a house with four lads who also do MMA. Depending on when we have fights scheduled the house can either be full of food and socialising, or it can be empty with a few sad and grumpy lads wandering around the place cutting weight. I usually train twice a day and I teach as well so pretty much all my time is spent doing some form of martial arts. It can be tough at times but it’s what I love so I’m very lucky in that sense. I also have great teammates around me who will always help out when needed so that makes everything much easier.
"Another thing I am very lucky with. I have some of the best training partners around. Liam Beechinor would be my main BJJ coach. He’s a fantastic grappler. Brendan McGarry is another great practitioner and we’ve been training together since we were white belts. There’s a whole host of other purple, brown and black belts in BJJ Cork that put me through my paces every week as well, too many to name.
"On the MMA side of things we have a very close group of individuals. Jack Maguire, John Mitchell and Jack Monahan have been tearing it up for the last two years. They are always keeping me on my toes. Now there’s Frankie Kelly, Ronan Tomnay and Deirdre Begley to add to that too. Plus, a whole host of other guys, they all know who they are. I also have Ken Anthony and Eoin Buckley helping out with my boxing, they’re always great for giving up their time. Then there’s David Dupont, my strength and conditioning coach. He’s really brought me to new levels this year. I’ll also have to give a shout out to Will Gardner for helping with any muscle injuries and Benjamin Martin of Optimal Chiropractic for constantly keeping me in great shape too. I couldn’t do it without all these guys."
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