UFC fighters Rory MacDonald and Max Holloway were on hand to help members of Kyuzo MMA at a guest session in Glasnevin on Thursday night, as the UFC prepares for their third ever event in Dublin this Saturday.
Tallaght native Paddy Holohan will take on Hawaiian youngster Louis Smolka in the main event at the 3Arena, but it was headline fighters MacDonald and Holloway that captured the minds and attention of the next wave of Irish fighters at a masterclass in north Dublin.
The pair took over a guest seminar at Kyuzo MMA, Glasnevin, where the duo were able to share their knowledge, experience and techniques with participants of all ages.
The seminar was organised by the UFC who reached out to club owner and Coach Barry Oglesby a number of weeks ago as the organisation continues to try and grow the sport throughout Ireland.
“The UFC touched base with us about five weeks ago to see if we’d be interested,” said Oglesby who found the gym in 2003.
“At the time there were no names mentioned or anything like that but they got in touch and were asking us if we’d be interested at all in bringing up some of the guys up here and giving our guys, as well as guys from other gyms, an opportunity to train and be exposed to top level athletes.
“I think sometimes just the exposure to top level athletes can change the way people think about sports.
I think it is good publicity for the UFC to get in and be working with the local gyms and obviously from our point of view it’s a great win to have the guys here.”
Holloway and MacDonald are amongst the UFC’s most decorated fighters, with the former riding a seven fight win streak while the latter has emerged as one of the sport’s brightest stars, narrowly losing out in a welterweight title bout in July in a fight that has been described by UFC President Dana White as “one of the best welterweight fights in the promotion's history”.
The pair had a busy day in the nation’s capital as they took part in a frantic media day at the 3Arena in the morning before spending the afternoon at St. Stephen’s Green handing out some free tickets to Saturday’s show.
Both fighters could have been forgiven for being less than energetic by the time they arrived to a nervy, yet excited Kyuzo gym, but both men were enthusiastic and eager to help all those who sought it.
They went through armbars, chokeholds, strikes, and combinations, and felt that it was only right of them to give back to a mixed martial arts community that has already given them so much.
“Yeah, giving back is a key thing,” said Holloway after training.
“Giving advice to the up and comers is great. You don’t know how someone’s day is going and you know when they come to the gym, they see something and you tell them something, and it might stick with them for the rest of their life.
“I think that that’s what us human beings are here for, to help one another and change people’s lives, and I want to change people’s lives.”