; John Donnelly Feature Jan11
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John Donnelly Feature Jan11


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									Fighter Profile
Name: John Donnelly
Club: Team Ryano, Baldoyle, Dublin
Fighting Weight: Welterweight
The motivation to fight can take many forms. For some it’s about compiling an impressive record. For others
it’s about claiming a title or testing yourself against the best. John Donnelly fights because he loves it. As it
turns out, he’s also quite good at it. His 8 year fight career has seen him take on international class
opposition while competing on some of the biggest MMA stages in the Ireland and the UK. Without being
motivated by belts and glory he is now regarded as one of the top welterweights in the country.
Donnelly describes his early sporting life as quiet normal. He boxed for a while as a 7 year old and played
Gaelic football, soccer and swam competitively like most kids. The turning point for Donnelly came as a
teenager in the mid 1990’s when his father, Peter, who trained in combat sports mainly for fitness, brought a
copy of the UFC 3 video home. After heavy rotation in the family video recorder, father and son were hooked
on the new sport.
The problem at the time was nobody in Ireland really knew what MMA was and there was nowhere to train in
the fledgling sport. With the encouragement and support from his father Donnelly began cris-crossing Dublin
to train boxing, judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu 2-3 times a week. His first foray into competitive MMA was some
amateur competitions in Northern Ireland with Andy Ryan who would go on to become Donnelly’s head
coach at Team Ryano.
Casting a glance down Donnelly’s pro-fight record 2 names immediately jump off the page. He made his
MMA debut at Extreme Brawl 3 in London in 2003 against Paul “Semtex” Daley. “That fight didn’t really go to
plan” Donnelly remembers with a smile of the first round TKO stoppage.
Following the baptism of fire came two wins in 2004. Then Donnelly found himself in the ring with former
Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi at Rings Bushido Ireland in 2005. However, it
wasn’t the more experienced opponent that Donnelly was worried about. “Walking out in front of 5,000
people in the Point Depot and knowing they’ll all be watchin’ you in the ring was more of a worry than the
fight” said Donnelly. Following the armbar loss to Mousasi, Donnelly’s went 1-3 in the MMA ring taking his
overall record to 3-5.
While some fighters might have questioned whether they were cut out for the fight game, Donnelly was not
and never will be concerned with the win-loss columns. “Records are for DJ’s” jokes Donnelly. “I love fighting.
I love the training, I love the motivation fighting gives me. If success comes, it comes. To be honest, even if
I’d have kept losing I’d still be fighting, that’s what it means to me. I just really, really enjoy it” explains
Donnelly passionately.
Thankfully, Donnelly kept fighting and also started winning, hardly surprising when you combine his natural
athletic ability with his incredible level of commitment. Win or lose Donnelly returns to training at the Team
Ryano gym almost immediately after a fight, nearly always before he knows when he’s fighting again. His
days begin with some cardio work (a run or swim) before starting the day job. He heads to Team Ryano after
work for two and a half hours of sparring, BJJ rolling, grappling and MMA drills 5-6 days a week. On the rare
occasion there’s no class scheduled quite often you’ll see John and father Peter, sparring or hitting the focus
mitts by themselves. If there’s a fight in the works his day looks pretty similar but the intensity in training goes
up a notch.
Donnelly’s recent four fight win streak that began in 2009 coincides with a drop down in weight class to
welterweight. His first weight cut before fighting Dave Cullen at Strike & Submit in the UK was relatively easy.
His constant training regimen means he’s never too far from his fighting weight. A day of abstinence and an
afternoon in the sauna before weigh-ins usually sees him down to the 77 kilogram limit. At 6 feet 1 inch tall
with a thickly muscled frame, he now steps into the ring an imposing welterweight rather than an average
sized middleweight
Up next for Donnelly is the main event at the Rumble in Rush 5 on 26 February against tough American
Dustin West who is coming off a devastating 7 second knock-out victory at Strikeforce Challengers 13 at the
beginning of the year. Win, lose or draw Donnelly will be back in the gym looking forward to his next fight in
the MMA ring.
Fergus Ryan, January 2011

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