Who is the next Irish UFC superstar?

We look at some of the fighters following Conor McGregor's path

ufc, dublin, mcgregor, duffy, parke, daly, holohan, seery, lobov, nelson

Aisling Daly Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

In the early hours of Sunday morning, Conor McGregor steps into the Octagon to face Jose Aldo and fight for the UFC Featherweight Title.

UFC President Dana White has regularly called McGregor a "superstar" in his two and a half years with the company, while the Irishman himself has claimed that he's not the only one from these parts who's involved in the UFC. 

If, as he famously proclaimed, "we're not here to take part, we're here to take over", where will Ireland's next MMA superstar come from?

Aisling Daly

Ais "The Bash" is the only Irish fighter in the UFC rankings apart from McGregor. Daly was probably the most popular Irish fighter at the recent UFC event in Dublin where she defeated Ericka Almeida by unanimous decision in Dublin and is ranked 15 in the Women's Strawweight Rankings.

Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Joe Duffy

Donegal's Joe Duffy is the only fighter that is not based in Ireland on the list. He was due to fight Dustin Poirier in Dublin in October, but failed a pre fight health test after suffering a concussion. That fight has been rescheduled and will take place in Las Vegas at the start of January.

Poirier is ranked 13 among Lightweights, and a win for Duffy may set the wheels in motion for a fight with McGregor down the road. He is, of course, the last fighter to have defeated McGregor, showing the potential that he has to similarly impact the division.

Norman Parke

The Antrim Lightweight is preparing to fight in London in February against Rustam Khabilov. Parke has fought in Dublin twice, winning on both occasions with massive ovations from the fans.

Image: Gregory Payan / AP/Press Association Images

 

While he represented the UK in an Ultimate Fighter series, he is seen by many as part of the Irish MMA community. Athough the 28-year-old is unranked, he is an eight-fight veteran of the UFC, and is looking to move into the rankings next year.

Neil Seery

Seery is one of the most popular Irish fighters in the business. "2 Tap" has only lost once in the UFC, against Louis Smolka, who has also beaten Ireland's Paddy Holohan.

Seery works in between fights, and his down to Earth personality has seen him rise in popularity around Ireland. He has said that will never contend for a UFC title shot due to his age, but the former Cage Warriors champion added that wherever and whenever the UFC arrange a fight for him, he'll be there.

Paddy Holohan

The Hooligan was promoted to the main event in October's UFC Dublin event before losing to Louis Smolka. Holohan's last five fights in the UFC have seen him win three times, but despite that loss, the Tallaght native remains as popular as ever. He's expected to make a return to the Octagon early next year, 

Artem Lobov

On Friday night, Lobov had a disappointing debut at the Ultimate Fighter finale in Las Vegas. One of the newest fighters on the UFC card, Lobov recorded three knockout wins on his way to the final.

McGregor's training partner was born and raised in Russia, but has dual citizenship. He is unbeaten in his last three professional fights (before the Ultimate Fighter Finale), Lobov will hope to pique the Irish fans interest throughout his career.

Gunnar Nelson

Image: ©INPHO/Rodrigo Romos

Nelson is based in Dublin and trains in SBGi under the tutelage of John Kavanagh. Despite being Icelandic, he is an honorary Irishman in the eyes on all domestic MMA fans. He fights Brazilian legend Demian Maia at UFC 194. and a win could push him into the stratosphere. Nelson has only lost once as a professional, and is seen by many as a future champion in waiting.