Michael Conlan tells Fightstore Media: ‘My main goal is to headline Croke Park’

The morning after Jamie Conlan dominantly defended his WBO intercontinental title, his brother Michael sat down to talk to Fightstore Media from his hotel.


The soon to be 24-year old oozes confidence. And why wouldn’t he when he’s the number one ranked bantamweight in the world following his gold medal triumph at the world championships last month.


After being a pundit for the first time at ringside for his brother’s fight, Conlan told us how it went and how he believes Jamie performed.

“I really enjoyed doing it. It was my first time with BoxNation. It was a great experience and I would love to do it again,” Conlan said.

“I’d give it (Jamie’s display) 10 out of 10. He didn’t over do anything or under do anything and he went in there with an injury. To finish the fight how he did was brilliant.”


Growing up, Michael Conlan’s favourite boxers were Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, Erik Morales and more recently Manny Pacquiao.

To get to the level of those guys Conlan is having to work tremendously hard.

“I’ve sacrificed my whole life to boxing. Its been seventeen years and its been tough. I’ve given my everything to it and it has all paid off in the end,” added Conlan.


He wasn’t the only world champion at the National Stadium last night either as the Notorious Conor McGregor made an appearance.

We asked Conlan about the UFC and if he would hypothetically ever compete in an octagon.

“I think it’s (UFC) brilliant and a growing sport. Conor McGregor is making it a huge thing in Ireland and it’s great to see.

“Whether or not I’d like to fight in it, well I don’t like being in a headlock so maybe not,” laughed Conlan.


The Commonwealth, European and World champion also passed on advice to any young boxer.

He said: “No matter what happens never give up. If you lose just keep going because it doesn’t mean anything to lose.

“Paddy Barnes lost his first 12 fights and look where he is now. There’s people undefeated like Floyd Mayweather and it’s all false.”


And speaking of Mayweather, now the ‘Money Man’ has retired Conlan believes the new pound for pound king is either Roman Gonzalas or Gennady Golovkin.


Conlan has previously stated that after he wins gold at the Rio Olympics he will be switching to the professional game.

How will the transition be for Conlan from being Irelands greatest ever male amateur to a pro just starting out?

“I have a style that’s adaptable to anything. I think it will be very easy for me to change over.”

He continued: “I plan on being Irelands greatest ever athlete never mind boxer. Its 100% achievable for me and I will do it.”

Michael Conlan on Facebook.

Michael Conlan on Twitter.

Michael Conlan tells Fightstore Media ‘My main goal is to headline Croke Park’
Michael Conlan with a set of 16oz white Cleto Reyes Velcro sparring gloves

Logan takes the Lightweight Title at Ryoshin Fighting Championship 8

Dylan Logan (SBG) wasted no time in defeating Ron Butler (Ryoshin Academy) when the two met on Saturday night at Ryoshin Fighting Championship 8.

The crowd was buzzing with excitement as both fighters made their way to the octagon but Logan kept a cool head and efficiently went about his work.

Speaking exclusively to FightStore Media after the victory he said, “At the start of the fight Ron hit me with a shot and I knew that he wasn’t messing but I composed myself, took a step back and landed my right hand. Then I felt that panic rush and I knew what was coming. He dropped his hand and I got him in a triangle. When I get that triangle, as Paddy Holohan says I make them go ‘Jingle Jangle’.

When asked about his game plan, Dylan was quick to say that he never plans any of his fights. “I don’t game plan. I literally go in and flow. At SBG we’re prepared for everywhere,” he said.

This fight was important to Logan because it was the first time that he’d brought people to one of his fights. “I had my dad, uncles, brother, my girlfriend and all my mates here tonight. I was a bit nervous beforehand because I didn’t know how I’d perform but once I got out there and heard all the cheers it filled me with energy. I felt like they could off done no time limit and I wouldn’t have got tired. At past fights I’d show up and two rounds in I’d be gassed. I felt a real hunger to perform. When I landed that check hook, he paused and then wobbled. I threw a kick and then he panicked and rushed. As soon as I locked the triangle there was no doubt in my mind that he’d tap,” said Logan.

Speaking about winning the Lightweight title, Dylan said that ‘it feels good to take it back to SBG’. But he has bigger aims than the Ryoshin belt, “At the end of the day this Ryoshin belt means nothing to me. I don’t want to be the best in Ireland or Europe. I’m looking to be the best in the world. That’s just the way it is and that’s bred into us at SBG. If you’re not in it to be the best then why are you in it?”

Logan felt like he was at a higher level than the rest of the fighters. “. I feel like I’m a professional and all these other guys are amateurs. I think that the difference between us is huge,” he said.

He told FightStore Media that, “The preparation up to this fight was correct, I trained like a pro and cut weight like a pro. For my last four fights I’d show up in the morning and have 3 kg to cut but I’ve been on weight since Tuesday for this fight. I was having three meals a day and six litres of water. I showed up to the weigh-in fully hydrated with breakfast in my belly.”

There is a sense that every fighter from SBG has huge respect for John Kavanagh and Dylan Logan is no different. “I can’t go wrong with John in my corner. He knows how I feel without me saying anything. I’d be bouncing around back stage putting on a front in front of the other lads but obviously you get nervous, I am human. The nerves build up and you try to cover it but John knows what to say and when to say it. His instructions are so clear. You don’t hear that from the other corners. When you do what he says you win fights. There are so many waves of fighter coming through SBG. I feel like we’re just going to take over the game and dominate,” he said.

Dylan Logan will go straight back to training on Monday but he has his sights set on turning pro in the near future.

Jamie Conlan tells FightstorePROi: “Growing up I liked Arturo Gatti, every fight was exciting”

Jamie ‘The Mexican’ Conlan spoke with FightstorePROi this morning from his hotel and the Belfast man is ready for an “explosive” display over Adrian Dimas Garzon.

Following his war with Junior Granados it was no surprise when Conlan said that growing up he looked up to Arturo Gatti, the ultimate warrior.


After his fight on Saturday, what’s the first emotion that will arise for Conlan?

“The first thing after a fight is relief, no matter the result. People don’t realise that,” Conlan said.

“It’s not like football players, its 12 weeks of stress preparing. You can’t eat certain foods and you’re not living a normal life.

“We have one night to perform and look good whereas footballers have every week to impress. It doesn’t matter if we look good for 12 weeks, you’re only judged on that one night.”


Conlan told FightstorePROi that he was disappointed with his last outing but said his reputation was boosted because of it.

“I was down about the performance initially. It was below par but when I noticed the publicity, I learned I had to go through it to become a bigger name,” added Conlan.


With the fight only a day away Conlan gave some insight into how he spends his time with the bout being so close.

“I don’t even speak about boxing. My brother will come down now and we won’t even talk ten minutes about boxing. I will take it easy, watch tv and walk.

“I don’t even really speak about boxing when I get into the dressing room. There’s no point wasting nervous energy.”


Referring to his remarkable fitness in his previous contest, Conlan said: “I’ve always had stamina but at MGM it’s a different level, especially strength and conditioning. I’ve learnt so much about nutrition.”


The morning of his battle with Junior Granados, Conlan couldn’t get full and ended up over eating. He is sure that it will be a different story tomorrow.

“My conditioning coach stayed in Marbella but he’s here now and has everything prepared. Last time, I’ve never done it before, but I had porridge, then a full Irish and another porridge.

“Then I brought the croissants with the chocolate in them up to my room. I couldn’t move for the rest of the day. I don’t know why I did it, I just couldn’t get full.”


The undefeated Conlan, who is the WBO Intercontinental super-flyweight champion, believes 2016 will be the year he wins a world title.

He also said that he doesn’t care that his English rival Paul Butler will be doing commentary and revealed that he has no interest in hearing what Butler says on the night.

You can watch Jamie Conlan’s latest pro fight live on BoxNation on Saturday night.

‘Daddy, do one thing, beat Ian Tims’: Michael Sweeney talks to FightstorePROi about family life

Michael Sweeney was in a relaxed mood as he sat down to speak exclusively to FightstorePROi this morning.

The Galway man, who fights Ian Tims tomorrow night, spoke of his biggest fans, his family.

“Two of my kids are coming up to see the fight. My little son Rocky is doing the ring walk with me and he’s eight,” said Sweeney.

Sweeney told us that Rocky also gave him some advice ahead of his rematch with the Dubliner. “Daddy, do one thing, beat Ian Tims” was what Rocky suggested to his father.

“He’s a smart kid. I was in the gym last week and Rocky was sitting in there and I gave him a book. I trained for 40 minutes and I came back and the girl behind reception said he’s brilliant at drawing. I had a look and he was doing Storm Sweeney logos. I think I’ll have to take one and use it,” Sweeney said.

Rocky plays soccer and boxing but his father said he wouldn’t influence his sons decision on what he wants to do in the future.

“He plays football and boxing. He looks good in both. It’s his decision. If he took up soccer it would be brilliant. There’s more money in that,” laughed Sweeney.

“Boxing is a lonely sport. A lot of people don’t realise it. On a pitch or on a bus you have your other teammates. No matter how strong you are you can go down in boxing quickly.

“You go to the gym, run, then come back home and watch what you eat and think of weight. I step on the scales two, three times a day.”

Sweeney confirmed there was nothing personal about his rivalry with Ian Tims and he said he respected his competitor.

He also doesn’t believe the fight will go the distance.

“I’m in the Stadium, it’s a big ring and I can move. I do believe, I could be wrong, but I don’t see it going eight rounds but I’m not going for a stoppage. There is too much heavy bangs on both sides and one of us has to go and it’s not me.”

You can watch how Michael Sweeney performs tomorrow night against Ian Tims live on BoxNation. Sweeney hasn’t fought since 2013 but says he is feeling sharp and better than ever mentally.

SBG’s newest addition Cian Cowley – “I’ll smile when I’m rich!”

Cian Cowley – Remember his name because this former ISKA Irish K1 Champion is tipped to make a huge name for himself in the world of MMA. An accomplished Thai boxer, Cian has been taken under the wing of one of the world’s best MMA coaches, John Kavanagh. The switch from his home at Warriors Muay Thai to Straight Blast Gym (SBG) has been a difficult transition but one which he is relishing. Under the tutelage of Coach Kavanagh, Cian is determined to become a well-rounded MMA fighter and aims to make his professional debut in 2016.

It has been two months since Cian walked through the doors at SBG and it has taken him a while to adjust to his new surroundings. Cowley said, “It’s been difficult going from being at the top of Thai boxing to a day one beginner in Jiu Jitsu. It’s hard on the mind because you’re going in and beginner level lads are throwing you around the mat and I’m not use to that, but I’m really enjoying it. I’m starting to get the bug for Jiu Jitsu as well.”

The transition from being an expert in stand-up to day one Jiu Jitsu was a tough challenge for Cian but it is something which he has not taken lightly. “Some lads in the gym are high level grapplers and they go to stand-up and say that it’s so hard to learn but I think it would be easier going from the ground up. There’s not a lot to stand-up technique wise, it’s more so how you use it and you’ve to be smart with your footwork but in Jiu Jitsu there’s an answer for everything and there’s so much to learn. It’s a never ending puzzle and that’s why I would rather have had experience in Jiu Jitsu and went to Stand-up,” he said.

Many have questioned his decision to leave Thai boxing and pursue a career in MMA but it was a move which Cian felt he needed to take in order to make a living from martial arts. “I wouldn’t say it was because I saw the success of everyone else; I’m not trying to copy anyone. I have followed some of the lads from SBG but even by looking at the media exposure MMA has now; it made sense for me to move into the sport. I dedicated ten years to Thai boxing and I could have dedicated my life to it; I had a good name in the Thai boxing world but I’m not going to have money at the end of it. There is only a small majority of people like me that depend on this for their livelihood; I’ve no other job or qualifications so I have to fight, and fighting to make money won’t happen in Thai boxing so that’s why I had to move to MMA,” he said.

Cian Cowley - Warriors - FightstorePRO Ireland

The move has been met with criticism as some people have said that he is turning his back on Thai boxing but that couldn’t be any further from the truth in Cowley’s mind. “I don’t really care what anyone thinks, that’s my mentality inside and outside of fighting. I’d rather have everyone hate me rather than love me. For the people who are saying that I’m turning my back and I know I’m getting a lot of stick from them saying all I want is fame, and obviously money and fame are nice but I do it because I love mixed martial arts. In my opinion you have to be a complete fighter to do it. I’ve the opportunity to end my career by being able to say that I fought at the highest level of MMA where everything is put together. I think anyone who does martial arts should be able to say that they’ve done it. You can’t call yourself a true martial artist if you’ve not competed using every discipline. The ones saying that, are the ones who are jealous because they can’t do it. Real recognise real and they’re the true supporters,” he said.

“The real people in the Thai boxing community will see the true side of it and it’s not because I don’t love the sport anymore. At the end of the day it’s about my career and I need to make a living for myself so I’ll chase the money. I don’t care what anyone says I’ll never make any money in Thai boxing or K1. There’s only a handful of fighters out there who make decent money and I know lads in the game twenty years with real good names but still can’t afford their own house. I’m not going to be the one in my thirties looking back on a missed opportunity. We’ll see in a few years’ time who’s smiling at the end of it,” he added.

Cian carries a certain confidence going into MMA. He has been a multiple champion at elite level Thai boxing and he’s sure he can match any fighter on their feet. “I know I could fight anyone in the MMA world and I look at the UFC roster and I’m 100% certain I could stand with any of them. That will give me a lot of confidence going into the fights knowing that when they’re standing I can put them away. When I think about that it makes me real eager to jump in and do it because I know that I’d blow them away in stand up. At the same time it’s not just stand-up so anything can happen,” he stated.

SBG was the only gym that Cian wanted to join when he decided to move into MMA. John Kavanagh was a huge influence on his decision and he has learnt a lot from him already since joining. He explains that, “I didn’t really know what to expect from him because he’s so busy with everyone else so I was a bit optimistic. But after meeting him the first time and the first couple of sessions in the gym I can’t really put into words how grateful I am to him. He’s a huge influence on everyone in the gym and I can see why there’s such a good buzz. He’s really down to earth and a very smart coach. Even when I was thinking I’m not going to be good at this he was posting stuff on Facebook about me which gave me that belief to keep going and now I can’t see myself stopping at all. I don’t think I would have got that in any other gym so I’m grateful for that.”

The confidence which Coach Kavanagh has shown in him has been a huge boost and kept him focussed on getting better at Jiu Jitsu. “I’m not saying no other gym would have done the same thing but it’s just the way he’s been pushing me on to do it. I didn’t think he was even going to take notice of me but he said it himself that he’s been following a bit of my career before I joined SBG so he’s clued in and he knows that I’m here to learn. I taught he was going to think that I’m just another kick boxer wanting to do MMA because there’s a lot of people that do that and he’s probably seen dozens of them come through his door. I’m now working on the pro MMA team and that’s a privilege because usually it takes years to get to that stage. With John driving me on and giving me a good plug on social media it has definitely given me a boost and now it’s real,” said Cian.

Cian Cowley - Alastair Magee - Warriors - FightstorePRO Ireland
Alastair Magee (Left) – Cian Cowley (Right) – Warriors Gym

Cian has been training six days a week in SBG since joining with double sessions every day. Being surrounded by so many big names in the world of MMA has been a surreal experience. He explained that ‘it was mad at the start’. “I’ve been around martial arts my whole life so training in that environment doesn’t phase me but it’s a reality check when you see who’s on the matt with you. I don’t realise when I’m there in the class but then when I look back on photos or think about training with a UFC world champion and other world champions from different organisations it’s very strange. Last week John was teaching a class and I was taking part in it; at the time I didn’t realise but then I saw a picture afterwards and there was Gunnar Nelson, Conor McGregor, Ryan Hall, Paddy Holohan and Aisling Daly – all these big names and then there’s me coming from Thai boxing to train with some of the best in the world. I definitely see it as one of the best MMA teams in the world because people travel from all over the world to train in the gym. You’d think that fighters would go to America but now people come to SBG and for me to be a part of that it’s a surreal feeling. It’s pushed me on to succeed and I’m delighted that I’m a part of it,” said Cian.

Cian Cowley has big plans for 2016 and he is sure to be followed closely by everyone involved in MMA. “I’ll have my MMA debut in 2016 and I want to hit the ground running. Once I have my first one I’ll try to stay as busy as I can because I really want to get my name out there as much as I can. I don’t know what John has planned for me but I want to fight often and stamp my name in the MMA world. By this time next year I want people in the MMA world to know who Cian Cowley is, that’s my goal for 2016. Then I can start thinking about bigger things like the UFC,” he said.

You can find Cian Cowley on FacebookTwitterInstagram 

Getting to know Lynn Harvey, Ireland’s newest female Pro Boxer

Despite being only the second current pro female boxer in the country, Lynn Harvey, 34, from Kilbarrack, isn’t making a big fuss about it.

“I only told my Da a couple of weeks ago that I was actually turning professional,” Lynn laughed as she sat down to talk with FightstorePROi.

“I just do my own thing. I only told my brother recently too because I was telling him he needs to buy a ticket.”


The bubbly, charismatic Harvey is making her pro debut at the Red Cow hotel on Friday 6th November at flyweight.

How did she feel when she received her pro licence?

“It didn’t really sink in until I got it in the door and I became very emotional seeing it. I knew it was coming but when I had it in my hand it got real then,” Harvey explained.


Many would expect her to be nervous with such an occasion approaching but Harvey is composed and raring to go.

“I’m more relaxed now than I used to be. I’ve had a lot of personal growth in the last few years.

“I will have a healthy amount of nerves that will keep me sharp on the day. I know I’m prepared and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t do the business.”


Harvey is the former Irish novice, Intermediate and Senior champion. Extraordinarily she only took up the sport at 29.

After working in various jobs such as at a restaurant and a day care centre, Harvey gave the sweet science a try as a personal achievement. Three years later she was the National Senior Elite Champion.

Harvey says that although the senior championship was her career defining moment, she is now aiming for greater glory.

She told FightstorePROi: “The world title is what I want. There is no point being in the Celtic Warriors Gym and around that talent if that’s not your goal.”


Boxing has helped Lynn Harvey in so many ways, from battling depression to building confidence. She would recommend for other women to get involved in the sport.

Harvey confirmed: “I’m always encouraging other girls in my fitness class to try boxing even if they don’t compete. It’s good to do something out of your comfort zone and it spills over into the rest of your life to do other things.”


The famous Celtic Warriors Gym is where Harvey is now based. She is under the guidance of trainer of the year Paschal Collins.

“It’s amazing, I even watch Paschal with other fighters to observe what he’s showing them. He’s away a lot in America or in England with Frank Buglioni and he’s left me with a good young trainer called Daniel. He’s been in the gym since it was opened. Daniel passes everything on to me that he’s learned from Paschal.”


Does Harvey sacrifice anything by being a boxer?

“I’ve never smoked and at my age I’m settling down. Maybe relationship wise but I progress better when I’m single. My love life would be the only thing sacrificed and I’m more than willing to do that for what I want,” said the Dublin fighter.


Harvey, whose favourite film is ‘The Colour Purple’, would be open for her eight year old son, Tyler, to one day become a boxer.

“When he’s ten I will start him with a bit of training. I think he would make a fabulous boxer, he’s left handed. I’ve done a bit with him and he’s a quick learner.”


When speaking to Harvey the question of ‘if she wins next Friday, how will she celebrate’ came up.

Harvey was keen to emphasise it was when she wins and not if.

After her bout, will she go on a mad night out to celebrate her pro debut?

“I will have a drink because I can but to be honest I don’t drink much at all. After the fight and the adrenaline where’s off I will be fit for bed. I’m going to the MGM boxing show the next night so I wouldn’t stay up drinking even if I wanted,” Harvey revealed.


Lynn Harvey will be sponsored by FightstorePROi on the night. She has an aggressive, old school style of fighting and you can catch her first step into the professional world of boxing at the Red Cow hotel next Friday.

You can find Lynn Harvey on Facebook.

Getting to know Lynn Harvey, Ireland’s newest female Pro Boxer




Mariusz Brozda and Ger Kennedy impress at ‘The New Bloods III’

The UFC wasn’t the only combat event that struck Dublin on Saturday night.

‘The New Bloods III’ Muay Thai show may not have been as glamourous as the UFC, let alone comprised of guests like Conor McGregor, but the fighters at the Kilnamanagh Community Centre possessed the same courage and desire to win as the pros across the city in the 3Arena.

And speaking of pros, Kamikaze’s Mariusz Brozda made his professional C-Class Thai debut against Hammerhead’s Diarmuid Dunne in Tallaght at 70kg.

Baroza was notorious as an amateur with a reputation for executing consecutive first round KO’s.

His first pro clash didn’t go to plan though, as the judges controversially awarded the taller Dunne the decision.

But Brozda produced an exciting performance. His low centre of gravity mixed with powerful punches was reminiscent of a Mike Tyson style of fighting.

In round three Brozda landed a stunning overhand right to the chin which knocked his opponent down.Mariusz Brozda and Ger Kennedy impress at ‘The New Bloods III’

Dunne deserves credit for rising from the canvas and continuing to battle.

In the final two rounds he endured some heavy blows but he also had success with the clinch.

When Dunne was given the decision following five tough rounds, Brozda, despite being disappointed to be denied victory, was gracious in defeat and immediately congratulated his fellow fighter.

Mariusz Brozda, in particular his infamous hands, are ones to look out for on the fight scene in the future.

The other highlight of the night was crowd favourite and 309’s own Ger Kennedy’s amateur contest against Warriors’Anthony O’Gorman at the 70kg limit.

When Kennedy approached the ring the audience erupted with noise. Along with being Mr popular that evening, he had the skills required to warrant his overwhelming support.

When the opening bell was about to sound, O’Gorman smiled to his coaches, an expression that symbolised the realisation that the audience craved his downfall and one that emphasized his determination to take on the challenge.

But in the end, his mental strength wasn’t enough to succeed. Kennedy was too clever and clinical throughout the five rounds.

O’Gorman kept attempting a push kick to the mid-section but Kennedy was ruthless enough to catch the leg with one hand and fire a punch with the other to floor his opponent. Kennedy scored three knock downs in total.

After the sensational spectacle, Ger Kennedy spoke exclusively to FightstorePROi.

Asked about the atmosphere, Kennedy reflected: “It’s great when you have the home crowd with you. I have to say the atmosphere was brilliant right through the whole fight. It’s what kept me going.”

He also spoke of the durability of his opponent.

“He (O’Gorman) just kept coming back no matter what I threw at him. In the third round he caught me with a good dig and I was seeing stars. I shook it off with the crowd and came back,” said the delighted fighter.

Kennedy concluded by stating that he thrives under the support of the audience instead of being pressured by it.

He added: “You kind of tune out but when you hear them cheering and when you’re in a bit of trouble it motivates you to go again and again.”

‘The New Bloods III’ show had everything you would expect from a Muay Thai event.

Brutal finishes, teenagers with potential to go far, close encounters, an exhilarated crowd and an overall good night of entertainment provided by the sport appropriately known as the art of eight limbs.

Mariusz Brozda and Ger Kennedy impress at ‘The New Bloods III’
Mariusz Brozda and Simion Gicu getting ready back stage.

Article by Liam McInerney

Rhys ‘Skeletor’ Mckee – The new era of Irish MMA

Rhys ‘Skeletor’ McKee (1-0) is an up and coming MMA fighter – fighting out of Next Generation Northern Ireland (NGNI). He made his professional debut at BAMMA 22 in front of a sold out 3 Arena and won impressively; gaining a lot of praise from his fellow fighters and various media outlets. Rhys is an unorthodox fighter with a great variety of skills and he has adopted a unique fighting style which is very hard for opponents to predict.

He started doing MMA during pre-season with his football team. “I went to MMA with my brother to get fit ahead of the new season and there was a grappling competition on at the gym so I competed in that. I’d only done a few classes but I got a feel for it and it just took off from there. Now I’m four or five years in and I’m loving it,” said Rhys.

Although he loved football, there was something about MMA that was different and sparked his interest. “It’s a buzz you don’t get off anything else; it’s not like football were you have ten other people you can blame, when you’re in the cage you can’t blame anyone else but yourself.” MMA is a sport that takes dedication and it comes down to you against your opponent and ‘when you get on the good side of a fight no one can take that shine away from you. Being on your own can be lonely but it’s a very rewarding sport’.

Rhys is trained by Rodney Moore, one of the biggest names in Irish MMA. It was Rodney who told him not to have a certain fighting style. “My coaches always said to have your own style and it’s something I’ve always remembered. I never got shouted at for using unorthodox moves while I was training and they even encouraged me to think outside the box.”

I’m probably one of the most unorthodox fighters. I like using a lot of different angles and I think a lot about stuff. I’d say this works to my advantage because I don’t think any opponent will be able to work out a game plan to fight me. I’ve got a weird style which no one can mimic and it’s something you’d have to feel during a fight.  I don’t think I’m an easy fighter to work out and as Bruce Lee says ‘having no style is the best style’,” He said.

In the build up to fights Rhys trains everyday besides Sunday. He would normally do ‘two sessions a day but that depends on what hours I’m working. I train a lot for someone my age and it can be tough at times but that’s what you have to do if you want to achieve the goals you’ve set’.

As an unorthodox fighter it can be hard to name a favourite strike or submission but Rhys said he likes to throw ‘a left hook to the body’ or his favourite submission would be a ‘guillotine or a Skelotine,’ the latter being a new submission he named himself.

He was given the nickname ‘Skeletor’ very early in his career. “When I first started at the gym I weighted 48 kilo and then I started to grow. I was cutting weight for a fight and it made me look like a skeleton then one of the lads in the gym called me ‘Skeletor’ and its stuck with me ever since.”

There has been no single inspiration for Rhys but he said “It changes for me all the time and at the minute I like watching Sage Northcutt, the new kid in the UFC. He’s only 19 and I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from him. People like Nick Diaz, Edson Barboza and Ross Pearson get me motivated. I love watching anyone that’s relevant to myself so at the moment watching Northcutt is cool because he shows you what’s possible.

Rhys ‘Skeletor’ Mckee – The new era of Irish MMA
Source: Ryan Ball Photography

Rhys also said that he grew up watching Nick Diaz and his favourite fight was Diaz against BJ Penn at UFC 137. “I think it showed just how good Diaz was as a fighter. Obviously BJ Penn is a legend so that was my favourite fight”

Training at NGNI has allowed McKee to train alongside the likes of Dec Larkin and UFC fighter – Norman Parke. This environment has been a huge part of his development as a fighter. “They’ve been a massive help to me! When I first started coming to the gym these were lads that I use to watch at shows and now they’re taking me aside to show me how I can improve, change my skills and get better. I can’t thank those guys enough for what they’ve done. Still to this day they help me a lot. They’re good guys and it’s great to have them around,” said Rhys.

On the 19th September at BAMMA 22 – Rhys stepped in at short notice to fight John Redmond (5-10) and make his pro debut. He defeated Redmond by rear-naked choke at 1:38 of the first round. He said, “It was surreal because I was in work on the Friday night previous and my coach asked me how fit I was; he asked if I could do a three round scuffle and I said ‘yea, no problem’. Then he told me who I’d be fighting and obviously John Redmond is a big character in Irish MMA. I wanted to skip the queue and take the fight. I was sitting on weight the week out and there was no reason why I couldn’t have taken the fight. It was probably one of the best nights in my life! It will be hard to beat that night in the rest of my career.

The fight showed how good McKee was on his feet and also on the ground. “I was happy that people got to see my show me hands after I told people I was a good striker. John came to fight and that brought the best out of me. I felt it went well, I was happy with my ground game.

I’ve fought in Dublin a few times and the atmosphere is brilliant but when you walk out at the 3 Arena it’s something a bit different. The crowd were amazing and it was an unbelievable night,” said Rhys.

Rhys also revealed exclusively to FightStorePROI that we may get to see him on the England V Ireland: BAMMA 24 card next year. He said, “There’s something in the woodworks, put it that way but I can’t say much at the moment. The England V Ireland BAMMA card is definitely a one I want to be on so watch this space! I’m looking forward to it.”

At the moment there is no one that he wants to call out and fight. “Once I get a few more wins under my belt I’ll start trying to skip the queue and calling out the big names. You’re not in the game for a long time so you have to try and get to the top as quick as possible,” he said.

As a young fighter he knows exactly how hard it can be starting out in MMA and he has offered his advice to anyone in that position. “I’d tell them to stay consistent and don’t lose your drive for it. It’s a tough sport and you will lose fights once you get in the cage but they’re the days that’ll make you as a fighter. They’re the days that will make the good days even better. You have to dig deep, stick with it, listen to your coaches and stay loyal to your team. That’s a big one for me – Stay loyal to your team!”

The ‘Skeletor’ recently became a sponsored fighter of FightStorePROi and he is delighted with the partnership. He said, “I’ve actually bought gear from them before the sponsorship and it’s great quality equipment. To have them on my team, sorting me out with training gear before fights is a huge boost!”

I use to go onto their site and look at their gear and it was all brilliant. They sent me a bundle a few days ago and I’ve been using away at that training gear. It’s some of the best quality stuff I’ve had and even other guys in the gym have tried it on and spoke very highly of it,” said Rhys.

You can follow him on Twitter: @RhysMcKee or like his page on Facebook: Rhys ‘Skeletor’ Mckee

Rhys ‘Skeletor’ Mckee – The new era of Irish MMA
Source: Facebook Acc

An Interview with Dec ‘The Bandit’ Larkin

Dec Larkin (13-10) is an experienced fighter who is known as an excellent grappler but also a very good all-rounder. He is well known on the Irish scene as a fighter, referee and also for his role as a Promoter/Matchmaker with UXC. ‘The Bandit’ as he is known, recently won the Lightweight title at Chaos FC 14 and since then has fought in Europe twice. We caught up with Dec and he talked to us about his life as a fighter, training, advice to beginners and winning titles.

He began his career in MMA nearly fourteen year ago. “A friend of mine, Aidan Marron, was doing it and he asked me to come along and train one evening a week and then I couldn’t wait until the next week to get back at it again. It just escalated from that.”

Like many other fighters it was the love of MMA that kept him interested in the sport. He ‘enjoyed practising the techniques and trying to outsmart other guys.’ Every week was a different test and ‘I enjoyed sparring with other guys’.

His main inspiration growing up was ‘BJ Penn’ in the UFC. “Domestically it would probably be Aidan Marron, I went to a lot of fights with him and I learnt a lot from him. I started training with him and Davy Patterson at Elite Fighting Revolution (EFR), it’s where I got my love for the sport.”

‘The Bandit’ got his nickname when he began training at Elite Fighting Revolution (EFR). “Somebody called me a bandit one day and it just stuck with me since then. It came from joking about in the gym but I’ve kept it since then.”

He is known to many as a Grappler in the cage but Dec says that he is a ‘pretty good all-rounder’. “I know I don’t show a lot of my stand up but if you ask the boys in the gym they’ll tell you that I can stand and throw punches too. I’ve a good ground game and stand-up.”

A fight is won or lost by the amount of training that’s put in during a fight camp and ‘The Bandit’ is no stranger to this. “When I’m in a fight camp I train six days a week, probably twice a day. I’d do my fitness in the morning then go and do a day’s work and go back to the gym in the evening to work on my technique/ stand-up. I would normally take the Sunday off.”

In the cage Larkin loves to use ‘heel hooks’ and ‘leg locks’. “I have finished a fight with two submissions in one. I used a knee bar and a figure four foot lock, if you can picture what that’s like. That was pretty special!” He enjoys this technical side of MMA because the submissions are ‘hard to get and nearly impossible to defend against.’

After his victory at Chaos FC 14, Dec was invited to fight in Europe. He took a fight in Finland on two days’ notice and then fought Ange Loosa (5-0) at the Lions FC event in Switzerland one week later. He was unlucky to suffer two defeats but he enjoyed the experience of fighting away from home.

“It was different because you don’t have the crowd behind you. That’s probably a good thing too because there was no pressure on me but I wanted to go there and make a name for myself. I’m trying to do good things for my country. Northern Ireland is a small place and I wanted to represent it and try and open doors for others fighters.”

“I thought I was winning the fight against Loosa, until I made one stupid mistake and ended up paying for it.” ‘The Bandit’ lost by TKO in the first round but he hopes to fight again in Europe. “I’ve opened a few doors for everyone else and they’ve been messaging me looking for fighters. That’s something else I have to look into also, sorting fights for other guys to get into Europe. I’ll probably take on a small bit of management to help some fighters out.”

At the moment he has no fights coming up but he would like to defend his Chaos FC title. “I have to manage a few injuries at the moment so I’m just going to let them settle and then I’ll speak to my manager and see what we’re going to do. I’m a fighter and I’ll fight anywhere and anybody.”

In regards to his Lightweight title there is someone that ‘The Bandit’ would like Chaos FC to put forward. “I want them to put Stephen Coll forward. We fought a few years ago and there was a bit of bad blood after it. If Stephen Coll wants to step forward and fight me for the title then let’s do it!”

After he defends the title, Larkin would love to win more. “If you own a title it’s a pretty big deal because you’re walking around with a target on your head. Everybody wants to fight you but I don’t mind anyone wanting to fight me. I don’t run around looking to fight other guys except Stephen Coll. I’ll fight anybody.”

Dec has some very simple advice for anyone looking to get involved in MMA, “Do it!” “In my opinion MMA is like a drug, people get addicted to it. You go and start one class and you’re hurting after it but you can’t wait to do it again. I love the sport. We have small guys around 10 or 11 years old and they can’t wait till the next week to come back to class. Every part of the sport is addictive, whether it’s boxing, Thai boxing, Jiu Jitsu or Wrestling; there’s something there for everyone. My advice to anyone thinking about it would be to give it a go and not worry about partying at the weekend.” MMA teaches you ‘respect’ and ‘discipline’.

“There’s a really nice guy in my gym called Rhys McKee but you wouldn’t think by looking at him that he was a fighter except for his cauliflower ears. I would say that this kid will be a superstar next year. I would give him 18 months and he will be a star. He recently fought at BAMMA 22 were he beat John Redmond. That kid will be awesome and he’s going to go far.”

Dec ‘The Bandit’ Larkin is a sponsored fighter of FightStore Pro Ireland. He said that he was ‘very happy’ with the sponsorship. “They gave me a load of gear and all my walk out stuff, even driving all the way from Dublin to my home so I could get my fight gear the day before I flew to Finland. They’ve went out of their way for me more than anything else and have been great at promoting me.”

“I’ve recommended them to quite a few people and there is a code up on their website for me. If you type in the ‘Bandit10’ you get 10% off, so hopefully a few people have used that.”

An Interview with Dec 'The Bandit' Larkin
Photo by Ryan Ball Photography

Ben Forsyth stops by our store for a video shoot with Onnit Supplements

Last weekend we had the pleasure of meeting Ben Forsyth. Ben stopped by our store to shoot an ad for Powerful.ie that will be out on Saturday the 11th of July. Ben kindly gave us a few minutes to get to know him better and ask the questions we think you would like to know the answers to…

Q. First off, for all the readers that don’t know you, tell us a bit about yourself…

I’m a Mixed Martial Artist from Dublin with extreme self belief and drive.

Q. How did you get in to the sport?

It was a natural progression.  Tae Kwon Do age 6, then kickboxing, boxing, muay thai, eventually BJJ at about 18 and first MMA fight at 19.

Q. Why did you stick with MMA?

I liked the freedom of it.  The realness.  I was never a fan of limitations in style and padding and headguards whilst competing.  My first MMA fight just felt right.

Q. What’s your favorite strike/submission to use in any fight?

Spinning hook kick…expect to see a finish with this soon.

Q. Do you like to stand with your opponents or take them to the ground?

I usually tend to stand but work a lot on wrestling and ground in SBG so I like to use that too when I can.  Usually makes for an easier night too!

Q. What separates you from every other fighter in your division?

I believe that I am the most tenacious Amateur Middleweight in the country.  Only one person in the division has beaten me and it was a close one.  I’m always improving and always moving forward.  I like to outwork everyone.

Q. How would you describe your relationship with SBG?Ben Forsyth at Fightstore PRO Ireland 2015

My relationship with SBG is purely physical. (great sense of humour!)

Q. How would you describe yourself as a fighter?

Hard working, self driven, tenacious.

Q. How do you spend your days training and what are you doing outside of the gym?

I work a 9-5.  I try to get a 6.30am session in as much as I can.  Then train for an hour for my lunch. Then either train or coach in the evenings.  I mix it up with a balanced amount of strength and conditioning work as well as hot yoga too.

Q. Do you have a strict diet you stick to and what does it consist of?

A lot of good stuff, and a little bit of bad ;).

Q. What supplements do you take at the moment and what would you recommend to other athletes?

I only take a few supplements.  Hemp protein, creatine monohydrate in the mornings, a supergreen supplement called Earth grown nutrients, Some Alpha Brain and a multivitamin in the mornings too.  Powerful Ireland sort me out and I have a great relationship with them.  Been with them since the start and will be until the end.

Q. What do you consider to be your best fight?

I felt really good against Johnny Bowden but haven’t seen the tape yet!

Q. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

To date, the one that’s meant the most to me was getting my blue belt from John.

Q. If you weren’t fighting, what would you do for a living?

Running my own company, although that’s in the works anyway.  I like to keep busy, like very busy.  I thrive on it.

Q. Who are your idols and who inspires you?

Hmmm tough question.  I’d say GSP is a big one. Conor for his work ethic and self belief.  John for his pure dedication.  There are many.  Inspiration can be taken from anywhere if you look hard enough.

Q. What’s your favorite fight of all time?

Dillashaw vs Barao.  Watch it!

Q. When is your next fight and how do you feel about it?

This Sunday, 5th of July, on Kumite II.  I feel excellent.  Very excited to see how I’ll perform.  I’ve worked extremely hard the past few months and can’t wait to see the fruits of my labour.

Q. What is your plan for 2016?Ben Forsyth at Fight Store PRO Ireland

Keep moving forward.

Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I don’t like thinking too far ahead but I am hoping to have my own house.  That would be nice.

Q. What is your advice to someone looking to take up MMA, or any other contact sport?

If you’re passionate about it.  Go for it.  Just find what you love,  forget what everyone says, through caution to the  wind and just go for it.

Q. Your message to the readers?

Follow me on twitter @Spydermonkeymma 🙂 (Ben Forsyth is also on Facebook)

Random questions:
Do you enjoy reading? What are some of your favorite books?

Love reading.  I have a lot of favourite books but if I have to recommend one it would be the War of Art by Stephen Pressfield.


Music depends on my mood but ranges from Ben Howard to Stone Sour.  I love all movies too.


Sucker for Romantic comedies and comedies in general.  Looking forward to Ted 2!!

Fightstore PRO would like to wish Ben Forsyth good luck on his upcoming fight and if there is anything we missed, feel free to ask in the comments below.