Aisling Daly Update DALY GIVES IRELAND ITS 1ST US MMA TITLE
In the ESPN documentary “Winning Time” an NBC commentator tries to sum up how the Indiana Pacers’ Reggie
Miller singlehandedly beat the New York Knicks in game 6 of the NBA playoffs in 1995 - “There is a time to play and
there is a time to win. What happens during winning time is what differentiates a regular player from a superstar.”
Aisling Daly travelled to Ohio in early June determined that her trip would be spent as winning time and not as just a
Aisling fought Jessica Eye at the North American Allied Fight Series “Fight Night in the Flats VII” in Cleveland, Ohio on
Saturday 4th of June. Her opponent had notched up three wins as a pro after an undefeated amateur career,
clinching the Ring of Combat ladies title in April. Eye was supposed to be headed for the premier promotion for
ladies MMA, Strikeforce but was unable to secure an opponent so she settled for a headlining title fight on the
NAAFS card. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and match-maker Sam Caplan were sitting cageside at this event and rumor
had it Eye was one of several fighters from the card being considered by Bellator. Ironically Bellator had only recently
cut Aisling Daly from their roster of fighters.
Aisling had signed to fight Eye for the NAAFS 125lbs ladies title shortly before losing for the 2nd time in her 13 fight
career. It was the first time being knocked-out. The NAAFS match-makers probably thought Aisling might be a nice
scalp for Eye - decent record, had fought in Bellator and ranked above her in the ladies super flyweight division. If
you consider that Aisling was well beaten in her last fight, 1-2 in her last 3 fights had had been beaten in her only
other fight in the US they may have had the Irish fighter down as a soft touch. Little did they know that Irish
competitors tend to prefer the underdog status and relish the Rockyesque come from behind victories.
The hometown crowd had Eye pitched as the clear favourite. In case there was any doubt they roundly booed Aisling
as she walked out to the cage. In an interview with local media in the days leading up to the fight Aisling described
how she expected a hostile reception. This was something she already experienced in her MMA debut. That took
place in front of a partisan Danish crowd where she fought and beat the local hero. Fully aware that she was fighting
the 2009 NAAFS National Amateur female champion in her backyard, Aisling told NAAFS PR man and in-ring
announcer Jake Digman “I’m going to upset a lot of people tonight” just before the fight.
Reports on the fight gave Eye the first round as she scored a takedown and landed some heavy ground and pound
from inside Aisling’s guard. Round 2 started in similar fashion but with Aisling scoring the takedown this time. Having
tried for an armbar and a heel hook submission it was when Eye worked for a heel hook of her own that Aisling
seized the moment to cinch a lightning-fast rear-naked choke. Eye tapped out at 4:00 of round two making Aisling
Daly Ireland’s first female MMA title holder on international circuit and the new NAAFS Women’s 125-Pound
This victory is a phenomenal achievement and has truly put Ireland on the global MMA map. When JOE first spoke to
Aisling, she described her career goal as getting to the top of her weight class. This will be no mean feat as the ladies
125lbs super flyweight division is stacked with talent such as top ranked Tara LaRosa, Bellator 115lbs champion Zoila
Gurgel, Cage Warriors championship contender Rosi Sexton, and the last lady to beat Aisling Sheila Gaff all ranked
above her. Winning the NAAFS title will have served notice to the rest of the division that Aisling Daly deserves to
fight the best.
In a show of class the previously partisan crowd gave Aisling a round of applause once the fight was done. Aisling
also caught the attention of one of the largest MMA sites globally, Sherdog.com carried the story “Daly Blindsides
Eye” on the following Monday. It’s a pity no mainstream Irish media could distract themselves from peddling stories
of woe in the Irish economy to report on Aisling’s winning time in Ohio.
Fergus Ryan, June 2011