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13th Oct 2015

Latest SBG prospect Cian Cowley tells us about his transition from Thai Boxing to mixed martial arts

Getting to grips with grappling

Darragh Murphy

“I’m always going to be a Muay Thai fighter.”

Cian Cowley has done pretty much everything there is to do in the Thai boxing world but has recently decided to dip his toe in the water of mixed martial arts, and he’s liking the temperature.

The 23-year-old has joined forces with John Kavanagh at SBG as he prepares for his MMA debut and we got the chance to speak to the talented striker this week when Cowley explained how the transition took place.

“I had been fighting in Cage Kings in the National Basketball Arena in August and I had a meeting with John Kavanagh the week after and I told him that I wanted to give MMA a go.

“The move has obviously been hard. Going from being the best in my game to beginner Jiu Jitsu was difficult but I just set a goal for myself to improve.

“The first week or two was mental and I’ll admit that I was thinking ‘maybe this isn’t for me,’ but I’m starting to get the bug.

“I’ve been doing no-gi classes every day but John wants me to start training in one because he thinks that if I’m rolling in a gi every day then when I take it off for MMA that I’ll fly it.”

So why would a fighter at the top of his game in one discipline decide to pack it all in and start afresh in another?

“I’ve been in Thai boxing so long and I’ve beaten everyone,” Cowley explained. “I wasn’t really getting anywhere moneywise. It’s not like I was getting fed up with it or anything but I also run my own gym and too much of anything isn’t good for you.

“I saw what Conor McGregor was doing in Boston and Las Vegas which made me see that everything was going in the direction of MMA.

“With Thai boxing, it pisses me off. There are a lot of other sports that get so much funding in the form of grants but Thai boxers get fuck all. We don’t get any grants from the government and promoters can’t really pay that much because there’s not a huge amount of interest compared to MMA.”

He’s only been training in mixed martial arts a matter of months but Cowley is eager to start fighting. Rushing into it, though, is not something that’s likely with Kavanagh at the helm.

“John’s not really spoken too much about it but he’s put a lot of time into me so I’d imagine he wants me to fight in the early stages of next year.

“The problem with me is that because I’m so accomplished at Muay Thai, no amateur fighters are going to want to accept a fight with me. So I’ll more than likely have to go straight to professional MMA which is the best way for me.

“If I did get an amateur fight, it would be lose/lose for me anyway. If I lost then people will write me off as a failure but if I win, impressively even, then they’ll say ‘of course he beat an amateur.’ I think I’d like to go straight in with the pros.”

Cian Cowley 3

Speaking of pros, Cowley will now be working alongside the biggest name at SBG, UFC interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor and Cowley is looking forward to garnering all he can from The Notorious.

“I’m not trying to mimic Conor but I’ve always been a huge fan of his stand-up style. I went out to the Helix to watch him fight in Cage Warriors and even then, I loved the way he worked from the ground to get back to the feet.

“Everyone asks me the question about Aldo v McGregor because I come from a Thai background like Jose Aldo does but a traditional Thai boxing style won’t work against Conor and I’m 100% confident that McGregor is going to get the job done.”

Conor McGregor 31/3/2015

For Cowley, the endgame is the UFC and Kavanagh’s newest protégé is solely focused on fighting his way into the world’s premier MMA organisation.

“I’m not looking at this at anything other than a job. I’ve nothing else to fall back on. Fighting is all I have. Even if it takes five years. There’s nothing else in my mind other than the UFC.

“Even if an opportunity like The Ultimate Fighter would arise then I’d take it. I want to just keep a clean record. I’m big enough already to make a name for myself. I just want to make it impossible for Dana White to ignore me.”

Cian Cowley has recently been sponsored by Fitzpatrick’s Casino Dun Laoghaire, part of one of Ireland’s largest casino operators, which is the first step on his journey into the avenue of mixed martial arts.


Cian Cowley,SBG