Ireland is not a densely populated country. Despite its scant population (5 million individuals to be approximate), it has managed to produce some of the best fighters in the world. In this article, we shall discuss the top 5 Irish boxers of all times as well as the top 5 UFC fighters from Ireland. We also write a brief on the most popular female fighter from Ireland (with special regards to the Mixed Martial Arts fighting division).

The Top 5 Irish Boxers of All Times:

1) Steve Collins – Popularly known as the “Celtic Warrior”, Steve Collins was the bookie’s choice. He enjoyed an extremely successful armature as well as professional boxing career. He is known to have won twenty six Irish boxing titles before becoming the world champion. Ironically, Steve should have been the world boxing champion in the year 1990 wherein it is argued that he defeated Mike McCallum. Nonetheless, he eventually won the belt after defeating Chris Eubank (not once but twice). Unfortunately, Steve had to retire early in his career following serious head injuries.
2) Eamonn Loughran – A silver medalist at the World Junior Boxing Championship held in 1987, Eamonn went on to become the World Welterweight Champion. He also defended his welterweight belt five times (an iconic feat by all standards).
3) Barry McGuian – Popularly known as the ‘Clones Cyclone’, Barry participated in the 1978 and 1980 Commonwealth Games. After turning professional in the year 1981, Barry went on to become the World Featherweight Champion (WBA) in the year 1985 after defeating Eusebio Pedroza. Unfortunately, owing to his father’s sudden demise, Barry quit the sport, as he seemed to have lost the motivation to continue boxing.
4) Freddie Gilroy – An Olympic gold medalist in the 1956 Olympic Games, Freddie had an illustrious career as a professional boxer. During his short 5 year stint as a professional boxer, Freddie won several accolades including European, Commonwealth as well as British boxing titles. Freddy was also the favorite contender when it came to betting on the game. John Caldwell Vs Freddie Gilroy was perhaps the most popular boxing bouts in Freddie’s illustrious career.
5) Tom Sharkey – He started his career as a cabin boy before taking advantage of his “brawling style” boxing and becoming a world champion. A bookies’ favorite, Tom Sharkey had a terrific career as a professional boxer. He was inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the year 2003.

The Top 5 Irish MMA Fighters of All Times:

1) Conor McGregor – Without a shadow of a doubt, Conor McGregor is the most popular MMA fighter that Ireland has ever produced. He has participated in the Featherweight, Lightweight and Welterweight titles. He is currently the UFC Lightweight champion and has won 21 of his 24 professional MMA fights. Boxing is considered as Conor’s best skill-set. He is also known as “Mystic Mac” and “The Notorious”. Conor is undoubtedly the busiest fighter in the Ultimate Fighting Championship roster. He is also planning to move to the Lightweight division and win the title belt.
2) Joseph Duffy – Joseph is the only Irish fighter to have defeated the legendary Conor McGregor. He fights in the Lightweight division and has a professional fighting record of 18 victories and 2 defeats. In the UFC, he has fought twice and has remained undefeated both times.
Nicknamed “Irish Joe”, Joseph holds a professional boxing record of 7 fights with no losses and a professional kickboxing record of 3 fights and no losses.
3) Paddy Holohan – One of the best all rounded mixed martial artists from Ireland, Paddy Holohan competed in the Flyweight division of the UFC. He started his professional fighting career in the year 2007 before retiring in the year 2016. His mixed martial arts record stands at 15 fights, 12 wins and 2 losses, with 1 draw. Patrick used his Jiu-Jitsu skills to defeat his opponents. He also goes by the official name of Patrick Holohan.
4) Neil Seery – Neil is yet another MMA fighter hailing from Ireland. He has a mixed martial arts professional fighting record of 16 wins and 12 losses. Although he lacks knock-out power, Neil is known for his rock solid chin and his lightening fast speed. He is currently in contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship and fights in the Flyweight division.
5) Cathal Pendred – Nicknamed “The Punisher”, Cathal is an Irish fighter who has an impressive mixed martial arts record of 17 wins and 4 losses. He has competed for the UFC, Cage Warriors and the Cage Contenders. At Cage Contenders, he was the Welterweight champion. He fights out of Dublin, Ireland and has participated in both Welterweight as well as Middleweight divisions. Cathal is best known for his ‘dirty boxing’ fighting style that usually works in his favor during split decisions.
The Top Female Irish Fighter – Without a shadow of doubt, it has to be Aisling Daly. Currently competing at the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Aisling shuttles between Strawweight and Flyweight divisions. She has an impressive record of 16 wins and 6 losses in her mixed martial arts career. She won gold at NAAFS 125 pounds division by defeating Jessica Eye. Aisling Daly is undoubtedly the most popular Irish woman MMA fighter.

The Uncanny Connection Between Irish People and Mixed Martial Arts

It is interesting to note that more than 50% of Irish people prefer to legitimize MMA. They would like MMA to be added to the list of legitimate sports in Ireland. Ever since the Sports Minister of Ireland, Shane Ross, labeled mixed martial arts as a rather disturbing sport, the Irish fans decided to speak their mind and rally for the sport they genuinely love.
Mixed martial arts became popular after Conor McGregor won the UFC belt. Apparently, Shane is worried about the nature of injuries that this sport can cause. Many MMA fighters have been reported to have suffered brain hemorrhages. Leading neurologists have categorically stated that mixed martial art fighters run the risk of contracting long term sporting injuries.
Despite the contradicting views between the people of Ireland and the sporting authorities in Ireland, the fact remains that mixed martial arts and boxing are extremely popular in this country. With the rise in the global popularity of MMA, it is expected that Irish fans would always get to watch their favorite Irish fighters slug it out in a cage.