C-MAC duo eye title showdowns at Ryoshin Fighting Championships 5

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Before their upcoming title shots at Ryoshin Fighting Championships 5 on Saturday, Peter Carroll spoke with Coolmine duo Sean Keogan and Fabio Viti about their new found form at C-MAC, their opponents and what winning the titles would mean to them.

Sean Keogan was the perceived underdog going into his featherweight showdown with Alexander Yankov in November. Inactive having switched camps from Kokoro to C-MAC, Keogan’s strong grappling game allowed him to dictate the pace of the contest before finishing Yankov in the second round, justifying his move to a new club.

“I never felt like I was the underdog against Alexander,” revealed Keogan. “I can understand why people felt that way though, I had been inactive for nine months and in that time he won three fights. It meant a lot to me getting that win and to be fighting for a title is great.”

The Clondalkin man spoke of how he has developed under his new coaches, Luke Corcoran and Dean O’Sullivan, which has seen the fighter work his way to a championship bout this Saturday.

“Mentally I’m far more confident in my ability now, I just look at competition as a way to showcase my skills. I think since moving to C-MAC everything in my game has improved. Working with Deano, my boxing has come on a lot and I have the same grappling philosophy as Luke so he has really helped me develop my game,” he said.

Although he is facing a stern test in SBG man Levi Kehoe, Keogan has a great incite into his opponent as his coach Corcoran has previously trained with Keogh under John Kavanagh.

“I’m not intimidated by Levi, I’m looking at it the same way as I look at any fight. It’s great that Luke has trained with him, he knows a lot about how he fights and we’ve been able to develop a game based on that even though Levi has taken the fight on three weeks’ notice.

“He’s got great wrestling, he has a heavy grappling style but I’m confident that I’ll be able to counteract that. I feel more well-rounded than ever. I’m every bit as good in the striking department as I am with grappling, I just can’t wait to get in there now,” claimed the featherweight contender.

With team mate Fabio Viti also preparing for a title shot at Ryoshin Fighting Championships, Keogan spoke of the advantages of having someone close going through the same process in the lead up a big fight.

“It’s great to having a team mate on the card even for moral support when you’re cutting weight,” he said. “Fabio is having exactly the same feelings as I am so it’s a plus. We’re both on weight and ready to go.”

Considering ways he could win the fight, the C-MAC man is focusing on remaining calm inside the cage and insisted he would be in no hurry to finish the fight.

“My plan is to let the finish come, I’m not going out to force a finish, but if the opportunity comes I’ll definitely take it.”

Keogan explained how much winning the amateur title would mean to him.

“When I started training all I ever wanted was to win a title. To win an amateur title before going pro would be great, I’m just delighted to get the opportunity,” he said.

Flyweight Fabio “The Don” Viti is another man who made a move to the Blanchardstown based team having previously fought under Tony Carrick at Ryoshin Fight Team, and just like Keogan he believes he has loved on to another level as part of the “C-MAC family”.

“I kind of left Lucan, I didn’t know what direction I was headed in and I had a lot of friends telling me about a bunch of guys in Damastown,” Viti said. “I eventually went down and as soon as I arrived Dean and Luke made me feel like a part of the C-MAC family.

“Since moving gyms I’ve been on the Cage Warriors undercard and I managed to get a win over the number two ranked flyweight, David Thompson. That fight went nothing like we expected it to, but it worked out well for me in the end.”

Although Keogan has a certain edge with Corcoran’s understanding of Keogh’s game, Viti has first hand experience with his former team mate Blaine O’Driscoll who he will meet on Saturday night.

“Me and Blaine had a great relationship when we trained in Lucan, both inside and outside the cage,” he acknowledged. “I feel no different about him because we’re fighting, we’re just two fighters looking to make our way through the amateur division.

“We knew each other’s styles quite well back then but I know I’ve changed so much since moving to C-MAC, I’m sure he has too since moving to SBG. We used to beat lumps out of each other when we used to spar.

“I’m sure he’s fixed a lot of his old mistakes but maybe if I can wear him down he’ll go back to his old style and I might be able to exploit some things.

“He wanted to fight me, so I accepted the fight. We’re both ambitious guys, we both want to make a go of our fighting careers, we need success like we need air so let’s see what happens,” he said.

The flyweight highlighted that he was ready to deal with O’Driscoll’s grinding style and why he feels he is every bit a match for his opponent in the grappling department.

“I’m better than ever with the coaching I’ve been getting here. Luke has me ready to deal with Blaine’s wrestling, and people forget that I’ve trained in judo back in secondary school under Alan Martin. So maybe it won’t be a case of him taking me down, but me taking him down. I just want to get in there and let nature take its course.”
Having dedicated the best part of his life to martial arts, Viti commented on what owning an amateur title would mean to him.

“I think that to fight for a title, it means you’ve done a certain amount in the sport and you’re one of the best in your division. I think it’s a good thing to have an amateur title before you go pro. I’ve been training in martial arts since I was a teenager, I’m 25 now. This title would justify the effort I’ve put into this. It would mean everything to me to win it.”

@PetesyCarroll

Peter Carroll is Severe MMA's lead feature writer. He has been featured in many top publications and some rubbish ones too. He also writes for the Irish Daily Mirror and Vice's Fightland.