One of the first wave of UFC 'fighting Irish' set to retire on a very high note
First there was Tom Egan, then there was Norman Parke.
Four months before Conor McGregor began his quest towards UFC superstardom, a Bushmills lightweight debuted in the world's largest MMA promotion.
By making it to the TUF: Smashes finale against Colin Fletcher on the UFC on FX 6 card in 2012, Parke became just the second fighter to hail from the island of Ireland to fight in the UFC's Octagon.
That unanimous decision victory to become TUF champion kicked off a five-fight unbeaten streak culminating in a stellar TKO win over veteran Naoyouki Kotani on that magical night in Dublin where the Irish were invincible.
Once David Guetta's remix of the Nancy Sinatra classic Shot Me Down boomed around the 02 Arena and the 9,500-strong impassioned fans packed into the arena started making the noise of a crowd 10 times their size, there was a sense that Parke was never going to lose. Sure enough, he gave the fans the performance they deserved.
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) July 19, 2016
Parke's momentum then stalled, as he would go on to lose three of his next four fights before being cut by the promotion. His last win under the banner came against Reza Madadi in a familiar battleground with a new name, Dublin's 3Arena.
Since leaving the UFC, 'Stormin' has gone back to winning ways. He followed up his ACB win over Andrew Fisher with a BAMMA main event victory over former Irish UFC fighter Paul Redmond, in a gripping contest in the SSE Arena.
His next task is arguably his biggest ever, a lightweight world title fight in a 50,000-seater stadium in the lion's den against an undefeated champion. Parke (23-5-1) will take on Mateusz Gamrot (12-0) for the KSW lightweight crown on May 27th in Poland.
Many felt that Parke would be using this platform to get a third win on the bounce and perhaps secure another stint in the UFC, but as the 30-year-old tweeted on Tuesday, this will be his swansong fight.
My fight in Poland is my last ever fight, so it's finish or be finished, @KSW_MMA can keep the belt. Gamrot be prepared for a tough fight.
— STORMIN NORMAN PARKE (@norman_parke) May 9, 2017