8 things we learned from UFC Dublin: Holohan v Smolka 7 years ago

8 things we learned from UFC Dublin: Holohan v Smolka

It wasn't all that bad.

When Joe Duffy was forced off the card, fans began writing off UFC Dublin as the worst UFC event of the year and, to be fair, it was right up there with the least intriguing cards on paper.


But UFC Dublin actually surpassed the expectations of those glass-half-empty type of fans and we thoroughly enjoyed the fights on display.

We saw back-and-forth wars, absolute demolitions and cerebral gameplans paying off while there were also some unsavoury elements.

It was a bit of a learning curve for the UFC, for us and for fans in general. Here are eight things we learned from the UFC's third trip to the capital.

1. The UFC needs to rethink contingency plans


Can we hold it against the UFC that Joe Duffy and Stipe Miocic got injured? No!

But can we feel a little aggrieved that they didn't find suitable replacements? Maybe.

Fighters were lining up to step in for both Duffy and Miocic but management got in the way as Dustin Poirier turned down a fight with Norman Parke and Andrei Arlovski's team urged him not to pursue a bout with Ben Rothwell.

We understand that it's difficult to persuade fighters to fight on short notice but the revenue earned from ticket sales must come into consideration and the UFC should think about upping purses to offer an incentive to potential late stand-ins.


The promotion worked very hard to build a relationship with the Irish fans and that relationship broke down a little this last week with the UFC's inability to find replacement fights for Poirier and Rothwell.

We don't have all the answers but there has to be a better option than simply accepting that a fight is off the card and moving every fight up a slot. That works in the short term, to get an event underway and out of the way, but ultimately it will lead fans away from the organisation.

joseph duffy

2. Neil Seery is far too underrated


He's up there with the best boxers at 125 lbs but Neil Seery showed the grappling skills to match his elite striking on Saturday night.

2 Tap never let Jon Delos Reyes into the fight as he lit him up on the feet before taking advantage of some sloppy head positioning to sink in a guillotine choke and get the submission.

Because of his size and unassuming personality, Seery is often underestimated but he is likely the most talented Dublin-based fighter on the UFC roster, apart from Conor McGregor, and it's time that the world takes notice.

Neil Seery 24/10/2015

3. Judges are finally starting to get scoring right


The fans' reaction to the majority draw decision after the Till/Dalby fight was priceless.

At first, indignation oozed from the 3Arena crowd as they were denied an out-and-out winner before the entire arena kind of nodded with the thought that "actually, that's fair!"

Darren Till was pretty clearly ahead 20-18 on the scorecards heading into round three but Nicolas Dalby took one deep breath and absolutely took it to the Liverpudlian for the final round which ought to have earned him a 10-8. Two judges agreed.

Not enough 10-8 rounds are handed out in MMA and it was promising to see Dalby's dominant final flurry rewarded with one on Saturday leading to the draw that reflected the fight perfectly.

Good job, judges.

Darren Till and Nicolas Dalby 24/10/2015

4. Irish fans are beyond obsessed with Conor McGregor

We get that he's the best fighter we've got and the talisman for Irish MMA but, please, a little love for the other Irish fighters.

We didn't actually bring our clap-o-meter to the 3Arena so are just going off our usually reliable ears when we report that it was a UFC 194 promo that earned a bigger pop on the night than most of the Irish fighters' bouts received.

All it took was a glimpse of a suited-up McGregor for the crowd to erupt into a frenzy and we feel that that was a little unfair on the likes of Cathal Pendred, Aisling Daly, Neil Seery, Norman Parke and Paddy Holohan.

What happens if Conor McGregor suffers a career-ending injury? Does that kill Ireland's interest in MMA?

We need to start offering a little more love to fighters other than The Notorious if we're to sustain the growth of the sport on our tiny little island.

Conor McGregor 24/10/2015

5. Tristar is absolutely killing it

Duffy didn't make it to fight night but Tom Breese and Stevie Ray looked beyond impressive in their fights.

They may hail from the UK but both Breese and Ray have been honing their skills under the masterful eye of Firas Zahabi at Montreal's Tristar Gym.

Tom Breese earned $50,000 for his demolition of Cathal Pendred while Ray pushed his winning streak to five after seeing off Mickael Lebout via unanimous decision.

Is there a hotter gym than Tristar out there right now? We doubt it. They've even got Sage flippin' Northcutt.

6. The Irish aren't unbeatable in Dublin

"Clean sweep," they said.

Those two words dominated every preview of UFC Dublin as some overly hopeful fans predicted the Irish fighters to continue to dominate on home soil.

To our memory, there seemed to be a fighter sat on the cage waving a celebratory tricolour for the duration of last July's Dublin card but Saturday night was different as both Cathal Pendred and Paddy Holohan were finished pretty comprehensively.

Interestingly, and we were keeping an ear out for it, "You'll never beat the Irish!" didn't ring out once throughout the card.

It was as if they knew.

Cathal Pendred 24/10/2015

7. We need to start filtering out the riff-raff

We can't begin to express how very small a portion of the crowd it was that opted to throw their drinks into the octagon after Paddy Holohan was submitted by Louis Smolka.

But the fact of the matter is that that doesn't happen at MMA events anywhere else in the world.

It's not excusable to do that for a contentious decision, let alone the kind of fair-and-square victory that Smolka earned on Saturday night.

The vast majority of fans there applauded as the better man on the night walked away with the victory but a certain sect of morons, for want of a better word, couldn't handle the fact that one of our own lost and threw a hissy fit.

Lads, we can do without ye. Go back to throwing coins at opposition corner-takers because we don't need this kind of bullshit in mixed martial arts.


8. Louis Smolka could be a fight or two away from DJ

Louis Smolka needs to fight a top-15 guy next.

The Hawaiian moved to 10-1 with his second round submission victory over Paddy Holohan and proved that he's truly one of the best flyweights walking.

He had the whole crowd against him so going the distance was always going to be risky but he took the fight into his own hands by wearing on Holohan for the second half of both rounds.

He's heavy handed for a 125 lber and has a grappling game to give most of the top-10 fighters fits.

And he's only 24!

If he's properly looked after, Smolka could mature over the next 18 months into a true challenger for Demetrious Johnson and while we'd never pick against DJ, he does pose some unique challenges on the mat.

Louis Smolka celebrates winning the fight 24/10/2015