Aisling Daly: My TUF Experience (Part 2) – First win in the bag

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With Irish MMA’s first lady seemingly struggling to find her training rhythm under the Nevada sun in the opening sequences of episode six of TUF 20, the chance to watch the historic UFC Dublin event seemed to come at the perfect time for the Dubliner.

“It was amazing to see it, I was having a rough week in there,” Daly acknowledged. “I was talking to Dana and telling him I was a bitch in the heat. I knew the fight was coming up, and as I said to Dana, I didn’t want to lose just because I can’t perform in the heat. I knew I was better than that girl.

“I was devastated when I knew I’d be in the house when UFC Dublin was taking place. Even when I was leaving for the house the whole card had been finalized – I knew everybody was on it. I knew it was going to be horrible to miss it.

“That’s literally all I was thinking about before I went. I knew I had to do what I had to do though, I had to go and claim my own spot in UFC – there was no point in me being there just to watch it.

“Just not knowing how prep was going and stuff. These were huge fights for the guys with Cathal and Paddy making their debuts and big fights for Gunni and Conor. When I’m at home and at the gym everyday I know exactly how everybody is feeling.

“When I was sitting so far away my mammy instinct was kicking in thinking about all the lads. I was just hoping that everyone was alright going into their fights.

“Then I saw the great performances and all the different wins, but I was still devastated that I couldn’t be there to celebrate with them. Just to be in the back shouting ‘SBG’ with them and all the other things we do when we win, but it definitely gave me the boost that I needed.”

Tecia Torres was drafted from Team Melendez over to Team Pettis after Justine Kish suffered an injury, which didn’t seem to go down well with the established members of the Pettis contingent. However, Daly claimed that she had no problem with another top tier athlete coming over to join them.

“It was always a weird environment for me anyway, I just didn’t understand the other girls. I don’t think they showed much of it but I was training with Tecia, they kind of made it out like she was completely alienated. It was really only me and Jo (Calderwood) that would train with her – we welcomed her with open arms.

“As far as I was concerned it was just another high level female athlete to train with that could help me improve. There was a strange environment on Team Pettis anyway with all of the wins. When the second half of the brackets came up you knew who you were going to be facing off against next.

“Training got a bit strange at that point. Sessions were getting split, there was a lot of avoidance with certain people on the training mat, so it was definitely a bit weird. Tecia was the least of the problems on that team at that stage,” revealed Daly.

When the time came for Daly to fight, the SBG product showed great heart to come back after Magana had a clear edge in the first round having taken the back of ‘The Bash’. Daly even managed to finish round two with the back of Magana, underlining her dominance.

Claiming the finish in the third round, Daly maintained at no time during the bout was she worried about her opponent finishing her. The former NAAFS champion also commented on how she felt that she couldn’t be beaten after watching UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs Brandao.

“It was pretty crazy. I was never too worried in the first round, I knew she wouldn’t finish me. She didn’t have enough jiu jitsu to finish me in that position anyway. Anyone who trains with me knows that I’m hard to finish from there.

“I realized that I had made a mistake, I think it was bad game planning. Usually I just go in there and do what I do, but for some reason because she had been in Thailand the coaches believed that she was going to strike with me.

“She didn’t. She shot for the takedown straight away so that kind of caught me off guard. I didn’t want to do anything silly that would allow her to get the finish. As far as I was concerned the first round was all about staying safe and no letting her get the finish.

“I knew I was going to pull it back in round two, I felt like she had given me her best in round one and it wasn’t good enough. I knew I was stronger than her, I had felt her out – I knew what she had and I knew what I had. I was super confident.

“I knew I had won round two and that it was going to go to a third round. You can see us on the stools in between the round and she isn’t happy that it’s going to a third. I was just getting started.

“There was never any doubt in my mind that I was going to win that fight. I just knew I was better than her and mentally stronger than her. I knew after seeing the Dublin card that there was nobody getting through this Irish woman,” she laughed.

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The Irish starlet also discussed the importance of getting the finish and refuted Magana’s social media claims that she would have secured a finish in the first round had the fight not been stood up:

“It was fantastic to get the finish. At the end of the day people can always complain about a dodgy judges’ decision, but it’s hard to argue with a finish like that. Especially in such a dominant position, it was gift wrapped for me, she had arm stuck so I was just able to tee off.

“Magana’s talking a load of rubbish on social media at the minute. I do agree that the stand up in round one was a bit premature, but at the end of the day he stood us up. I just did what I had to do.

“Her armbar attempt was nowhere near close. I’ve never been submitted in 20 fights, someone with her level of jiu jitsu was not going to be the one to do it. She still had two rounds to get it back after that but she did nothing at all.

“She was finished, it wasn’t a dodgy judges’ decision that went against her. She keeps claiming that she was fighting back but, how can you fight back when you have one arm wrapped around your head?”

Daly also discussed the implications of having a three round fight in a competition that doesn’t allow for a huge turnaround between fights.

“The fight had more grappling exchanges so physically it didn’t take all that much out of me. A three round fight is always going to take its toll, but it didn’t bother me all that much when I was getting ready for the next one.

“The weight cut was always gonna be the issue for me. Trying to stick around 115 the whole time we were in the house was always going to be the issue for me because we could pretty much be called to fight at any time.”

Aisling Daly (5) now moves on to face Jessica Penne (4) in the quarter finals of the series.

@PetesyCarroll

Check out Part 1 of Aisling’s TUF Experience

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