Aisling Daly: Dominant Win over Randa could lead to Title Shot

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Aisling Daly is predicting a submission victory in the curtain raiser at UFC 186 and she believes the win could lead to a potential title shot given how “wide open” the UFC’s newest bracket appears.

Having touched down in Montreal with “Team Midget”, whose members include Paddy ‘The Hooligan’ Holohan and Dylan ‘The Nuke’ Tuke, Daly seemed quite happy in her home away from home for the next few days, ahead of her sophomore UFC outing.

“Team Midget are having a great time over in Montreal,” she laughed from the UFC 186 media day. “It’s a great place, there are some cultural differences but we’re definitely having a lot of fun – a bit of training and a bit of banter.

“Everyone speaks French out here, they’re bilingual, but we’ve got the odd person who isn’t too impressed that we can’t speak French. They want you to make an effort, they’re a bit fussy at times, but it’s been good fun!”

After failing to reach the 116 lbs limit back in December, ‘Ais the Bash’ didn’t hide her frustration despite picking up her first round armbar win over Alex Chambers in her UFC debut. This time around however, Daly said her weight is perfect and she can’t see any trouble coming at Friday’s weigh in.

“Everything is on course, my weight is fine. I’ve nothing to worry about, I’m super lean – I might even have abs popping out because it’s gone so well, so that would be a first for me!

“That takes a lot of stress off me to be honest. In the lead up to the fight that’s basically where all of the stress comes from, I’m big for the 115 lbs bracket so the real fight for me is always with the scales. I’m super confident in all of my skills and I’m always willing to face any opponent, but making the weight has always been the battle,” she stated.

Before UFC Krakow two weeks ago, it seemed the strawweight division’s number one contender had been unofficially announced as Joanne Calderwood, pending a win over Maryna Moroz. After Moroz claimed a surprising first round armbar win over the Scot, it seems the next in line to Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s title has been obscured.

Given that, ‘Ais the Bash’ is currently ranked tenth, she sees the winner of her clash with sixth ranked Markos being thrust into title contention.

“This division seems quite shallow towards the top as far as title contenders are concerned and I think that’s a lot to do with how many people came on to the show from The Ultimate Fighter. We’ve all had the same amount of fights and no one has really broken from the pack and declared themselves as the front runner so far,” outlined the Irish strawweight.

“I think Joanne’s loss in Krakow shocked a lot of people and stylistically, I think she matches up with the champion very well – that would’ve been a great fight for the fans. With the Scottish show coming up it would’ve made perfect sense for her to fight for the title in co-main or main event slot over there.

“I’m sure the wheels were already turning for UFC’s marketing team with that fight on the horizon but Joanne’s loss has really blown the division right open again.

“Randa is fairly highly ranked, she’s up there at number six or something so yeah, it does make a real difference for me going into this fight. I don’t know if a win over Randa would get me the shot, but if I have a particularly dominant win I think it’ll throw my into title contention, definitely.”

Daly also discussed the evolution of her striking skillset, an aspect of her that has come on leaps and bounds over the last couple of years.

She said: “My striking has been the biggest improvement in my game by far. In SBG we’re working on a completely different way of viewing striking. We’re not trying to pigeon hole the different techniques like – this is boxing, this Thai boxing – but we’re taking all different techniques, some really unorthodox stuff, and putting it all together.

“I’ve really upped my comfort level in the striking aspect of the sport too. A few years ago sometimes I would panic on the feet if things weren’t going my way, you know rushing for takedowns and stuff. Even though I seemed to have the striking in the gym it just didn’t translate into fights because I wasn’t comfortable.

“Now that’s gone out the window. When we’re sparring in the gym sometimes I forget how good my wrestling and jiu jitsu is. I really love the striking aspect of the sport now.”

The SBG charge isn’t expecting too much hostility from the Montreal crowd, especially due to her fight’s billing as the bout that will open the entire show.

“I’m not really expecting a hostile atmosphere, it’s likely that the stadium will be half empty by the time that we get out there – we’re the first fight on the card. People don’t’ usually show up for them first few fights, they get more views on Fight Pass than anywhere else.

“Canadians by nature aren’t really all that aggressive, they tend to be on the more polite end of the booing scales. At the same time, I’m no stranger to being the outside or the underdog or anything like that.

“They could boo, they could tell me that they hate me, they can tell that I’m going to die or that they’re going to blow me up after it – it will literally make no difference to me. I’ve got a one-track mind going into these fights and nothing will change that,” she said.

Finally, the Dubliner gave her thoughts on how the fight will finish:

“I see a submission victory for me. My jiu jitsu is ahead of hers and I think I’ll catch an armbar.”

@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.