Mark Leonard Info by gusryan100


									1. How long have u been involved in MMA

Since 2002

2. When was the first time you heard about MMA?

2002, got a copy of UFC 1 on Amazon .com and was hooked after that

3. In hindsight how do you rate your ability when you were fighting??

I think I was better than I thought I was but probably not as good as other people thought I was!

When I had most of my fights the sport was very much in its infancy, the fact that I could grapple
meant I could rely on having an advantage on the ground, not something you could say today. I think I
am still competitive on the Irish scene, but I would hesitate to fight in England again without a run up.

4. What's the furthest u have travelled to fight??

The UK, Bristol for Angrr Management

5. Who do u think are the main players in Irish MMA today

Good question, so many people are coming into the sport all the time that the country is being divided
more and more among different people.

If you had asked me three years ago I would have rattled off Davey Patterson and John Kavanagh as
back then they were the knowledge silos, and largely responsible for the propagation of quality MMA
coaching. Now with an influx of high grades in BJJ and MMA from around the world their influence
has been diluted somewhat, but they are still there at the heart of it.

Its probably worth mentioning the MMA League at this point, the League has provided a competitive
outlet for so many Irish MMA participants over the years, that its influence can't be understated. I think
it sends the message that even if you are not mad enough to get into a cage sometime you can have
a crack at competing in MMA. For many it has been the start of a successful MMA career also.

6. What is your martial arts back ground!!

Started in Taekwondo in '94, got to 3rd Dan in that before I figured out what a waste of time it was,
MMA and BJJ came after that though heavily diluted with Kickboxing, Boxing and some Thai in there
as well.

7. How would you describe your club/teaching style

Inclusive - I try to structure my classes so that there is something for everyone from the hardcodre Pro
fighter to the casual participant just trying to keep fit. Also funny, I make a lot of jokes, they are really
good the first time you hear them, so I repeat them every couple of weeks.

Point Blank seems to have two very diverse bunches (hardcore and casual) peacefully co-existing
and I think its our strength, MMA can and should be for everyone, that's our motto. Well, actually our
motto is "Sometimes the only way around is through", cause that tends to market better, but you get
what I mean.

8. How do you see Irish MMA evolving in the next few years

I keep waiting for the bubble to burst to be honest. There are so many clubs and so many shows I feel
like something has to give, but that is probably just my natural pessimism. I think in 3 years time there
will be less shows than there are now as promoters stop being interested in spending weeks on the
phone trying to fill fight cards for a meagre reward.

I would like to think the sport will continue to grow, with more people recognising it as a fun way to
keep fit. The less people on treadmills in this country the better

9. Your funniest memory in Irish MMA
Probably the funniest thing that happened was when I was announcing an EFR back and the day and
the ring girl couldn't manage to fit the round card through the ropes, luckily referee Aidan Marron was
there to help explain the fundamentals of turning things on their side.

10. We ask everyone to leave us with one bit of scandal!!! What u got for us

Bit of a random question, isn't it kind of destined to fail, because if anyone had scandal they would
hardly put it on the net:)

Still you want scandal how about this - I reckon EA is going to be bought by a bigger Software/Game
Developer next year, remember if it happens that you heard it here first.

Read Leonard’s impressive MMA resume below and you will see he has a well-rounded view of the
sport in this country.

Mark Leonard’s MMA Resume


Talking to Leonard, it’s clear that MMA in Ireland has been growing quickly since 2007. However,
since the “MMA bomb” went off with the visit of the UFC in January, this growth has rapidly
accelerated. New MMA gyms have emerged throughout the country while established gyms have
seen a surge in membership.

This growth has fuelled a significant increase in the number of competitors in the Irish Amateur MMA
League. Last year, 90 people competed in the Dublin leg of the MMA league, representing the largest
ever turnout to date. This year saw a significant increase in the level of participation with three of the
four legs attracting 100 or more competitors, while the Dublin leg achieved a new record of 130

In the formative years of the league from 2004-2006, the number of rookies and veterans competing
were approximately the same. But since 2007 there has been a significant change in the demographic
of those competing. The number of rookies now dwarfs the number of veterans in the league. Add to
this the influx of the teen’s division this year and it is clear that Irish MMA has a bright future with more
young fighters than ever before.


The other reason for the smaller proportion of veterans in the MMA league is the increased number of
MMA promoters and events in the country over the past three years.

There have been cases where those with little knowledge of the sport have attempted to promote
events. Some have succeeded, some have not. The reason for this is simple Leonard explains, as the
promoters “which have succeeded are those who have consulted the Irish MMA community”. A
community which is happy to help in order provide safe and professional fights for their fighters to
showcase their skills.

Leonard believes there are currently “too many promoters relative to the pool of pro fighters available”
and that it is likely we will see many fights cancelled as a result in the next year. This should result in
the number of promoters falling to a more optimal level in the future.

Referring to local events, Leonard believes having “local fighters compete on the card is the key to the
success of these events”.

Leonard spoke highly of his fellow MMA promoters in the country, saying they have a love for the
sport and that events have triumphed in Ireland as they have been “marketed well”. He believes this
combination of passion for the sport and marketing savvy will lead to growing success for local events
in the future.

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UFC 93 was an undoubted success but of the 20 fighters on show, only one of them was Irish. Tom
“The Tank” Egan put in a valiant effort but was overwhelmed by rising UK prospect John “The Hitman”
Hathaway who is now 3-0 in the UFC.


While the number of those competing is rising and the standard is improving, Leonard believes we are
still a “few years away from seeing Irish mixed martial artists flourish in the US.” However, there are a
number making an impact in the UK and this cross promotion with the UK is a “key stepping stone to
developing Irish fighters.”

Asked to identify the rising star among the Irish MMA ranks, Leonard selected featherweight fighter
Damien “The Rage” Rooney as the one to watch. Damien is a Muay Thai specialist with a
professional MMA record of 5-1. Rooney has recently agreed to join former UFC welterweight
champion Matt Hughes’ HIT Squad based in Illinois. Rooney impressed after a 6 week stint training
there in the summer and will make his US debut in February. The HIT Squad is an excellent camp
which will further develop Rooney’s skills and features notable fighters such as veteran middleweight
Robbie Lawler, UFC Lightweight Matt Veach and TUF 10 alumni Jon Madsen.


From speaking to Leonard, it is clear that the sport of MMA has a bright future in Ireland. New gyms
are opening while the more established MMA gyms are attracting new members at unprecedented
rates. The Irish Amateur MMA League is flourishing like never before and is bound to provide the next
pool of young prospects for events locally and abroad. Local events are in good hands and are set for
growing success as the popularity of this great sport continues to spread. The “MMA Bomb” has
certainly been triggered in Ireland.

Irish MMA League 2010

About the League

Our Goal

To provide a safe, fun and easy way to start Mixed Martial Arts.

How do we acheive this?

We match fighters of similar skill levels

We allow no strikes to the head

All our events have a friendly sporting environment, we keep things as light hearted as possible and
try to ensure the focus is on enjoying the experience.

When is the next event?

Check out our Event Schedule to see when the next leg is happening.

Who can enter the League?

Put simply, anyone! In the past people from all different backgrounds have entered, Taekwondo, Jiu
Jitsu, Judo, Karate and a host of others have all had a go in the MMA League. Because the
competition makes safety a priority, anybody with martial arts training can feel comfortable about
trying it out (safe, fun and easy way to start MMA remember!)

Can women enter?

But of course! There is a full time Ladies Division at -60 KG, more divisions will be added for ladies as
demand increases.
Can teens enter?

From 2009 there will be Teen Divisions at all MMA League Rounds. Any teen interested must have
their coach contact us in advance of the event to arrange a match up.

No Teens will be registered on the day. All Teens entering must have a signed and completed
permission slip with them at the weigh in

What is the Rookie Division?

Last year each event saw over 70% of competitors at each event falling into the Rookie (first timer)
category. To ensure the skill level between opponents will be similar, in 2006 anyone who enters as a
Rookie will remain in the Rookie Division for the rest of the year. This will create a two tiered division
format, Rookie and Veteran, with winners being crowned in each. At the end of the year a seeding
system will be used to promote Rookies to Veteran Status as appropriate. The point of this system is
to further ensure that competitors will face similarly skilled opponents.

Exemptions to the Rookie Clause

If a competitor has been training in MMA for 2 years or more he/she is NOT eligible for entering as a
rookie, even if he satisfies the normal Rookie criteria.

If a competitor has been training in a single MMA discipline for 3 years or more he\she is similarily
excluded from entering as a Rookie. Disciplines that would count towards this rule are Boxing, Thai
Boxing, Full Contact Kick Boxing, Wrestling (Freestyle, Greco etc), Judo or Jiu Jitsu.

How long does each bout last?

Each match will take place over 1 x 5 minute round. Each competitor will have two fights on the day.
The bouts will be fought in a matted area which should be a more familiar environment for most first
time MMA fighters.

To view the current League Table standings click here or use the menu on the left. The winners from
last year came from a variety of backgrounds - Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, Jiu Jitsu - you name it they
are all represented on the Irish MMA League Table. For further information email or call on +353 87 2037 926

League Events 2010

Round 4 - Dublin, 20th of November 2009, St. Andrew's College, Booterstown Avenue

Events running order

10:00 am: Weigh in and fighter registration. Fighters are weighed and then placed into the correct

11:00 am: Match Lists are made and fighters are called for Rules Meeting Once the rules meeting
ends fighters go and check the matches they have been given.15 minutes are allowed for fighters to
review the matches they have and ensure everyone is happy. e.g. A competitor may not have
checked the 'Rookie' box and been entered into the veteran's division, mistakes such as these are
rectified at this time.

11:15am: Event Starts If there are more than 45 matches the event is split into two rings. Less than
that number and only one ring will run.

15:30pm: Event Ends We have gotten quite good at running the MMA League events at this stage
and our experienced competition staff can run up to 45 matches inside three hours, so you need
never worry about leaving the venue too late for those that have a distance to travel home.

The results are normally posted on the internet by the end of the weekend of the competition.

The League tables are updated normally +7 days from the event.
   1. I’ve read you have the same opinion as Joe Rogan on Tae Kwon Do, even though you
      reached black belt you became disillusioned with the martial art, why so?

   2. What was it like training MMA in 2002 when the sport was in its infancy? Where did you train,
      who did you train with?

   3. Any plans to get back in the ring? (Sherdog has you 2-2, is this correct?)

   4. Are you going to continue to promote Tribal Warfares?

   5. How many members have you got at Point Blank? Any prospects?

Regarding the MMA League

   6. What gave you the idea to start it?
   7. When did it 1 start – 2004?

   8. How many people turned up to early events?

   9. Was there a particular year that popularity - Was there a turning point or has it been a steady

   10. What are the numbers like these days?

   11. Is there any plans to expand venues?

   12. Have you had anybody object to the League?

   13. What would you say to a parent/partner unsure whether they’d like their child/partner getting
       involved in MMA

   14. Have any notable Irish MMA fighters got their start in the MMA League

On Irish MMA

   1. Will MMA in Ireland get mainstream acceptance as it has in the US?

   2. Whats the biggest threat to MMA in Ireland?

   3. What advice you you give to someone looking to get into the sport?

   4. Can you see anyone from the current crop of Irish MMA fighters making it to the big shows in
      the US?

Can you send me some pictures (5-6) of you in action be it as a fighter, trainer, MC and also some
pictures from the MMA League

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