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Ahead of his UFC 264 headliner on July 10th. — former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion, ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor has paid for each cadet athlete’s competition fees, as well as accommodation and flights to Bulgaria for this year’s IMMAF (International Mixed Martial Arts Federation) World Championships.
McGregor. who returns to the Octagon in two weeks’ time, makes his second outing of the year as he headlines UFC 264 on July 10th. from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada — in a potential lightweight championship-eliminator against two-time foe, former interim lightweight champion, Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier in the pair’s rubber-match trilogy bout.
The IMMAF World Championships, which take place in Sofia, Bulgaria — kick off on July 30th. and will continue until August 1st. Crumlin native, McGregor has pledged accommodation and competition fees, as well as travel arrangements for each of the 27 Irish competitors, as well as 20 coaches who will travel alongside the cadet athletes. McGregor wished the competitors luck in a brief statement released.
“Wishing the Irish squad the very best of luck in their quest at the world championships this year!” McGregor said. “From the fighters to the coaches, I know the future of our fighting nation is in excellent hands! Fight with the pride of the emerald isle, team! We are all with you! Good luck!“
Reacting to the news of McGregor’s sponsorship of the team, Team Ryano head coach and the Irish team’s leader, Andy Ryan explained how McGregor’s generosity came at the perfect time amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“This gesture by Conor (McGregor) has come at a time when Irish MMA needed it most,” Ryan said. “Gyms were among the worst hit by the COVID(-19) pandemic and throughout 2020, thousands of young athletes were unable to train on the mats with their teammates and coaches.“
“Those who persevered, trained at home, stayed focused, and qualified to represent their country are now getting the ultimate thumbs up from their hero and I have no doubt this support will light a fire under the entire squad heading out to take on the rest of the world in Bulgaria. On behalf of the athletes, coaches, and all the gyms of IMMAA, I wish to extend a huge thanks to Conor for his incredible sponsorship.“
The amateur World Championships have produced 13 medalists from Ireland, with Aaron Wallace, Carl McNally, Denis Perry, Thomas Martin, Ryan Spillane (x2), Lee Hammond, David Fogarty, scoring bronze, Bellator featherweight contender, Sinead Kavanagh, Ross McCorriston, Courtney McCrudden scoring silver medals alongside Bellator strawweight Danni Neilan — while Bellator alum, Frans Mlambo, and current featherweight contender, Leah McCourt have scored gold medals for Team Ireland in the past.
It’s been a hugely active summer for Irish mixed martial arts, with McGregor set to return on July 10th. against Poirier, as well as the IMMAF World Championships at the end of the month. On Friday night, Fight Academy Ireland mainstay, Joe ‘The SBG Hunter’ McColgan scooped the undisputed Cage Warriors lightweight championship against Agy Sardari with a third round guillotine — while the undefeated, Ian ‘The Future’ Garry turned in a masterful striking display against former lightweight title chaser, Jack Grant on Saturday afternoon to score the promotion’s vacant welterweight championship.
Straight Blast Gym mainstay, Kiefer Crosbie also returns to action on July 31st. with an important lightweight bout coming up against Bellator mainstay, Georgi Karakhanyan slated for Bellator 263 from The Forum in Los Angeles, California.
McGregor enters his bout with Poirier off the back of a second round knockout defeat to the Lafayette striker on ‘Fight Island’ at the beginning of this year, in a rematch of their featherweight showdown back in September of 2014, which the Dubliner won via first round knockout. With recently-minted lightweight champion, Charles Oliveira set to return before the culmination of the year, the victor between Poirier and McGregor in July is likely to challenge the Sao Paulo submission specialist for the championship.
Senior writer for FightBook MMA. An aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Producer of news articles, interviews, opinion features, and exclusive features such as, ‘The Fallout’, ‘The Breakdown, and, ‘This Week In MMA’.
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