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Aisling Daly Feature Feb11

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					                     Fighting Irish   Aisling Daly

The last time JOE caught up with Ireland’s 1st Lady of Fighting, Aisling Daly was on a train to Cork to fight at Cage
Warriors 39. This time Daly was in the more familiar environment of her gym in Drimnagh.

The fight in Cork was Daly’s return to the ring after the loss against Lisa Ward. The Ward fight represented a number
of firsts for Daly, first fight in the US, first fight down in the 115 pound weight category and first loss on her record
that now reads 10-1.

“I know why I lost to Lisa Ward. I had a tough (weight) cut, I was over-trained and, no excuses, Lisa Ward is a good
fighter and a better wrestler than me. But it’s not like she found a massive hole in my game and exploited that. She
didn’t beat me in dominant, devastating fashion. She beat me fair and square but I didn’t go into my next fight
thinking I’d started to slide” explained Daly.

Daly began working with sports psychologist David Mullins in 2009 and credits his intervention with her new found
mental toughness that now compliments her incredible level of physical talent. Prior to working with Mullins, small
problems in training could turn into massive issues in Daly’s head to the point where, even as an undefeated fighter,
she began to question whether she was cut out for the fight game. Nearly two years on Daly has developed a mental
toughness that now allows her transcend the pressure of the win-loss column. “I’ve gotten back to training the way I
trained at the start, doing it with a smile and loving every minute of it. I’m at a point where I’d fight whether I was
winning or not” said Daly.

In her latest win at Cage Warriors 39 last November, Daly beat a gritty American veteran in Molly Helsel. Helsel’s 21
fight record reads a who’s who of women’s MMA and holds a victory over the only fighter to beat Daly so far.

If you needed to see evidence of how mentally tough Daly has become, the refusal to tap to Helsel’s triangle choke
that lasted nearly 3 minutes should be evidence enough. “All I was thinking was ‘I’m not tappin’ to that’ and I just
kept working to get out. I know what I’m good and even getting caught in the triangle in the 1st round didn’t put me
off my game-plan for the rest of the fight, which was working for takedowns from the clinch and ground and pound
from the top.” The game-plan worked as Daly clocked another win and also bagged a “Fight of the Night” award for
the battle with Helsel.

The winning continued outside as well the ring as Daly was voted Female Fighter of the Year at the Fight.ie Irish
MMA Awards.

Having signed with Bellator Fighting Championships during 2010 Daly was hopeful for more fights Stateside.
However, having not signed any other female 125 pounders for their tournament format, Bellator may only require
Daly’s services for a preliminary card bout. A fight with Cat Albert, ranked one place above Daly (5th) in her division of
the Unified Women’s Mixed Martial Arts Rankings, was tabled a few times. Daly was willing to travel to Albert’s
backyard to fight for the Colorado promotion “Fight to Win” but to no avail.

Clearly impressed with their Irish experience in Cork last November, the Cage Warriors promotion is looking to
provide an outlet for Daly. Cage Warriors 42 is returning to the Neptune Stadium on the 2nd of April with match-
maker Ian Dean hoping to fill the card with Irish and international talent. They’ll also be hoping for another “Fight of
the Night” performance out of Daly but no opponent has been named yet.

Conscious that a pro-fighter relies on support for different quarters Daly would like to thank her sponsors Rival
Boxing Gear, Nutrition X, Pro Gum Custom Gumshields, the Irish Strength Institute, all her coaches and training
partners and Straight Blast Gym and David Mullins of Conquer Mental Skills.

Fergus Ryan, February 2011

				
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