ONE OF IRELAND’S premier MMA organisations, Cage Contender, touches down in Belfast this week boasting a card with the best Ireland has to offer mixed with an ex- UFC fighter to beef things up.
Dean ‘The Boogeyman’ Lister, who could be seen plying his trade in the UFC just over three years ago, is one of a number of star attractions at the event and he faces Rodney Moore, a veteran from the early days of Irish MMA.
As well as this, the fighter that TheScore has followed for the last number of weeks, Damien Rooney, also steps into the cage as he faces the undefeated Paddy Holohan.
‘The Rage’ in the cage
For Rooney, this weekend marks the end of a gruelling 10-week training camp and being so close to the fight, he is itching to get down to business.
Speaking at the weigh-ins yesterday he said: “For me all the hard work is over once I weigh in. Don’t get me wrong, I still know what is ahead of me and what I have to do, but once I can concentrate and focus fully on just my fight, that is what I enjoy the most.”
‘The Rage’ was quietly confident going into his fight, but wasn’t getting ahead of himself. “My training and preparation has all been second to none, but I’m not taking anything for granted,” he said.
“There is no doubt Paddy is a really tough guy, I know he is undefeated. But I’ve worked so hard and so long to get to this point and I will continue with that attitude until my hand has been raised.”
A major coup for Irish MMA
TheScore also had the chance to have a quick catch-up with the man who has previously beaten the likes of Jeremy Horn and Alessio Sakara in the UFC, Dean Lister. Lister is the current ADCC Submission Wrestling World Champion and Cage Contender XIII marks his return to MMA, as he looks to relive some of his former glories.
“I’m looking to get back into MMA. I took some time off for one reason or another but I’m back training, enjoying training, and looking forward to fighting again.”
The suggestion to fight in Ireland came from one of his training partners and Cage Contender star Gunnar Nelson as they trained together in Iceland.
“My good friend Gunnar and his father had said that they had fought here in Belfast, so we made contact with (managing director) John Ferguson and made it happen.”
Despite facing tough opposition in the form of Rodney Moore, ‘The Boogeyman’ feels the time is right to step back into the cage.
“You know, I’m not spinning wheels in the sand anymore. I’m actually making progress in my game and growing right now. My number one goal is to become a better fighter, a better person, a better everything and I’m in pretty good shape.”
Dean finished by saying he hoped to share a pint of the ‘black stuff’ with his Irish fans after the fight.
Colin ‘Old Skool’ Wain and Colin ‘Big C’ Robinson headline the event in a re-match of last year’s epic heavyweight title fight. John Michael Shiel faces off against Conor ‘Da Crooke’ Cooke in a fight that could be a headline stealer while Greg ‘Hitman’ Loughran faces the relative unknown Jorge Santos.
*Tickets are still available on cagecontender.net and find out all the results next week here on TheScore.