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10th May 2023

“We’ve earned it. We deserve it” – Ambitious plans for two big UFC events involving Irish talent

Patrick McCarry

Ian Garry

“Let’s go to Dublin. Let’s go to Ireland. Let’s bring the UFC back.”

We are five days out from the next biggest fight in the career of Ian Garry and he is giving us a virtual tour of his rental house and back garden in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The 25-year-old from Dublin [11-0] is going for a perfect dozen on his pro record and preparing for his first UFC Fight Night main card after four outings on pay-per-view cards. He is fighting veteran Daniel Rodriguez, right in the middle of a decent main billing, on a night headlined by heavyweights Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Jailton Almeida.

To Garry, this is the next step on his path to becoming the next UFC champion from Ireland since one of his big MMA idols, Conor McGregor.

He knows victory over Rodriguez, who has career wins over Kevin Lee, Mike Perry and Tim Means, will get him into the UFC welterweight rankings. Once he gets there, the bigger names will be easier to attract and the ascent can get even quicker.

After his last win, over Song Kenan, at UFC 285 in March, the Portmarnock native made a pitch to fight in April’s UFC 287, held in the state that has become his training base and home – Florida.

The UFC matchmakers had other plans for Garry but, with a win on Saturday night, he wants them to press ahead with plans he is pushing for the promotion’s return to Dublin. Having bonded with Conor McGregor after his last victory, ‘The Future’ has a solid Plan A and Plan A1.

Ian GarryIan Garry (R) of Ireland kicks Gabriel Green in their welterweight bout during UFC 276 at T-Mobile Arena. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Ian Garry on fighting on big Conor McGregor card

Following his win at UFC 285, Ian Garry cut another good promo as he laid out his ambitions for future fights and venues.

Asked if those live TV moments, when more eyes are watching, are the best way to get the fights he wants, and the attention of the likes of Dana White and UFC match-makers, the 25-year-old gets a glint in his eye. He spends the next three minutes using our chat to sell us ambitious plans for his next two fights.

“I’ve been constantly, consistently telling them saying that I want the UFC to come back to Dublin. We’ve earned it, we deserve it. The Emerald Isle deserves that UFC return.

“I am that guy who is spear-heading the second takeover – the Irish army that is about to come through. I’m that guy leading the charge. I’m him. I’m doing that for Ireland and for Irish MMA and I’m excited to be that guy because I know that I can achieve greatness for our country.

“I can quite happily and confidently say that when I go out there that I’m doing my country proud by doing what I do, and I want them to see it and understand it. I want that machine that is the UFC back in Ireland to see what I bring – the excitement, the joy, everything.

“And that is Irish MMA – I want the UFC to see that again because they’ve had it once and it was arguably the strongest following they’ve ever had. They never had anyone follow this sport like they did the Irish for Conor and we can make that happen again. And I believe that that will set the flame that will just burn and burn, and burn.”

The UFC has held three events in Dublin – the first being UFC 93, back in 2009.

That was followed by Conor McGregor headlining against Diego Brandao, in 2014, and a Fight Night event in 2015. The promotion was due to return to Ireland in 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic put paid to that.

Ariel HelwaniConor McGregor celebrates victory over Diego Brandao during their featherweight bout at UFC Fight Night Dublin, in 2014. (Credit: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE)

‘Shit, this kid is legit’

“I believe there’s two things that I can do for that,” Ian Garry sets out, as he plots a Dublin fight and something equally as exciting.

“It is by me talking on the mic and talking in interviews about how I want them back, who I want, who I want to go back against.

“It is also having me and my team, my wife, management – put something across the table… so that it is in the hands of Dana White, Sean Shelby, Mick Maynard and Hunter Campbell. So that they see it, they understand it and that they think about it themselves – with their own thoughts, their own opinions without any interference – then go, ‘Shit, this kid is legit. This kid is what we know he can be. Let’s give him that back and let’s go to Dublin, let’s go to Ireland, let’s bring the UFC back and give this kid the fire he deserves behind them.’

“I think it will do so much for the Irish support that is there but can just help grow it as a whole. I’m excited for when that will happen because it is going to happen. I guarantee it. I know it’s gonna happen.

“So, one of the two ways – there’s the Conor fight against [Michael] Chandler that is potentially going to be at the end of this year, but we still don’t know.

“To have me and Conor on a main card on a pay per view, that will be the biggest fight of the year. To have me and him fly the flag of our nation and generate so much excitement and enthusiasm in the sport in Ireland, and in the media around the around Europe and around the world – to have these two Irishmen go out there and do what they love and show the world how good they are. That will be one massive reason if that is to happen this year.

“If not, get me back to Dublin by the end of this year. If that [McGregor fight] is not gonna happen this year, then I want the UFC back in Dublin by the end of this year. We can do it and we can do a New Year’s Eve card in Dublin.

“Whatever it is that they can physically and logistically make possible, we can do it,” Garry adds. “So let’s make it happen.

“They are my goals. And if one happens, whichever one first, the other will be the next fight after. If I get the Conor fight at the end of this year, then it will be Dublin next year.”

Dublin for New Year’s Eve and one hell of a party, or another man flying the Irish flag on the UFC comeback night of Conor McGregor.

That’s the goal, says Ian Garry with a wide grin. “That’s my vibe.”

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