BY RYAN FERRY
LETTERKENNY man Damien McLaughlin made a winning start to his MMA career with a victory over Gearoid McDonagh at the Akuma Fighting Championships 6 in Templepatrick, Antrim last week. McLaughlin won by submission in the second round with a triangle choke, much to the delight of his travelling support.
Almost 20 of the Rilion Gracie club in Letterkenny made the trip to Antrim to cheer on McLaughlin and he did not disappoint. The 19-year-old wasn’t daunted by his first big fight, and he credited his coaches, Brian Coyle and Steve Coll, for ensuring he was mentally prepared to face McDonagh.
“I actually wasn’t nervous about it at all,” McLaughlin enthused. About a week out from the fight, I just decided to think of it as a bit of craic and not get too worked up about it. My two coaches kept me on track on the day of the fight too and made sure I didn’t lose my focus.”
McLaughlin was on top from the first second, and he finished off his opponent in style in the second round. “I felt I was striking and grappling well, but he was probably better at wrestling than me and he was good at the take-downs. But I won in the second with the choke I go for most of the time.”
McLaughlin started MMA in 2013, but he has made great strides since and he is hugely committed to his sport. “I started just over two years ago and I’ve been addicted to it since. I train twice a day, five times a week, and I don’t really need anything else in my life.”
Rilion Gracie Head coach Brian Coyle – who was in McLaughlin’s corner with Steve Coll – was delighted with student’s performance. “He was very calm and collected and he was very well prepared for the fight – he had the nine yards done. He was dominant throughout the fight and his striking was good. Everything went well for him.”
McLaughlin enjoyed a well-earned week off after the fight, but he will be back in the gym yesterday , and he hopes to have another fight before next summer.
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