Combat Vision MMA conducted a Q&A interview with Belfast Martial Arts fighter Ciaran “The Darkhorse” Mulholland ahead of his interim flyweight title fight against Livingi fighter Mikey McCoy at Akuma Fighting Championship X on Sunday 23rd April. Ciaran is the UAR and British flyweight champion and is ranked 34th in the UK/Ireland flyweight rankings.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to Combat Vision MMA, Ciaran. Could you tell our readers about the type of fighter you are?
“I am still really young in this game and forever evolving and changing. I am constantly learning and becoming a better version of myself. I don’t think, I have settled into a particular fight style”
You fight out of Belfast Martial Arts Academy. Could you tell our readers about the gym, coaches and any fighters you train with?
“I honestly believe there are not many clubs out there that even scratch the surface of Belfast Martial Arts Academy (BMAA). I think our approach is completely different, the mindset and the way we prepare for fights is unique and it’s proving to work. I am so lucky to have the quality training partners in and around my weight. I’m training with guys who are in there making waves (Patrick McNally, Michael Mulvena, upcoming fighters like John Paul Tully and Ciaran Heaney who features on the AKUMA card). My coaches at BMAA are undoubtedly the reason I am here and why I’ve been so successful in such a short period of time. They are always encouraging me to smash past previous limits. They are very unorthodox in their coaching and the gym has a special atmosphere”
How important has training with this gym been to your developing amateur career?
“Massively. I am so grateful to have the training partners I have, we are fellow competitors and are always pushing each other on. I feel, I train with some of the best guys in the country and sparring with them on a daily basis, pushes my boundaries constantly. The mentality at BMAA I feel is unmatched, I am most grateful for my coaches at BMAA I think wanting to fight is one thing. But, when I’m in there I put it all on the line, to make the gym and coaches proud. I feel, the reason I’m constantly evolving and improving is the down to coaches training regime and the guys I’m training with”
You won the UAR flyweight belt against James Amos by way of first round submission at Machine MMA 16. How did it feel to achieve your first belt at amateur level?
“That night was phenomenal. Not only for me on a personal level, for the club also. BMAA went 3-0 that night, taking home 3 UAR titles. It felt amazing to be part of that and It will always be a part of the clubs history and a landmark in my career. It was a special moment to have my hand raised and the belt around my waist. I plan to replicate this at Akuma on April 23rd”
You then went on to successfully beat Danny Waldron by way of first round submission at Machine MMA 18 for the British belt. Looking back, how did you cope with the mental pressure of going for a second belt at flyweight?
“I was so comfortable for this fight. I felt training camp had went perfect, we tried a new training regime and it really paid off. I was in camp along side some of my training partners, we were pushing each other, every session like it was our last session. I felt like I was never going to lose that fight and I feel it showed in my performance. I had an added confidence to already competing on this show in the same venue for the first title, so it felt familiar and I was super confident I would bring home the second belt”
Both wins came by way of submission. Is it fair to say you are confident if a fight goes to the ground and how much have you worked on your ground game?
“I feel my MMA ground game is a level above most. It is something I credit to the clubs system, we aren’t like many other gyms, we are an MMA gym and train MMA. Not single disciplines, there is no adjustment period. Everything I have learnt, can be used in the cage. I believe this is a massive advantage for me and it is a system I have 100% faith in. I think, if this fight goes to the floor, that’s where the fight will end and I’ll have my hand raised as the new interim Akuma flyweight champion”
You are fighting Mikey McCoy for the interim Akuma Fighting flyweight Championship on Sunday April 23rd. How much do you know about Mikey’s fighting style and is there anything you will be looking to exploit in the fight?
I have seen a few of his fights. I feel he’s a good fighter, who likes to stand on his fight and throw down. I have had my eye on the Akuma flyweight belt for quite a while now and I will take some stopping come April 23rd. I am super prepared for wherever this fight takes place, this fight won’t last the distance and it will end with me as the new champion”
How confident are you that you can add the interim Akuma flyweight Championship alongside your current Machine MMA flyweight belt?
“Ultra confident. Training has been going great, I feel I’ve had an extra drive and desire for this one after my last outing. I have put in more work than ever and there’s no doubt you’ll see a much improved Ciaran Mulholland at Akuma. This could be my best performance to date and I’ll make a massive statement. Any flyweight in Ireland will have a second thought about competing for my belt”
Your only loss in your amateur career was against John Hughes at Shinobi War 10 for the SMFC interim flyweight championship. What were your thoughts on this performance and was there anything you felt needed to be worked on to come back stronger for your next challenge at Akuma Fighting Championship X?
“I was personally disappointed in the performance. I felt I didn’t fight to the standard I could have. I was to locked onto a personal game plan and mid-fight it should have changed. But, I took the loss on the chin, I broke down my fight to see where I went wrong. I was too comfortable on the back foot and spent too long in the clinch. I have worked on advancing and being much more aggressive in my striking”
Lastly, what does 2017 have in store for Ciaran Mulholland?
“To have the MMA world at my feet”