Catherine Costigan, putting Limerick on the MMA map

Catherine Costigan

As a writer, it’s usually not the done thing to make the story about yourself. So I’m going to completely ignore that and do it anyway. In this case, though, it’s kind of hard to avoid.

This week, as you’ll surely know if you’re reading this, is a huge period for the sport of mixed martial arts. Not only is it the UFC’s annual international fight week with Vegas shutting down for fight fans but there are a litany of events and fights that people care about and are looking forward to seeing including, as we all know, Conor McGregor’s interim title fight against Chad Mendes.

This article is all about me, though, so let’s talk about what I’m most looking forward to.

Now, as an MMA writer with ambitions of being as legitimate as possible it’s important to keep the bias in check. And I’ll do that when covering, talking about and analysing the fights and fighters. But one part of your bias which you can’t control is what you are drawn to, what compels you the most or what feels special.

For me, this week, one person sticks out. And that’s Catherine Costigan.

If you don’t know who Catherine Costigan is, you’re going to find out fairly soon as she fights Amber Brown at Invicta FC 13 on Thursday.

Now, obviously everyone knows I’m Irish and she’s Irish and this is an Irish website so it’s not too hard to put two and two together; but it goes a little further than that.

Catherine Costigan, like myself, hails from the wonderful county of Limerick. To most people, having someone in your area fighting would be pretty cool but maybe not all that rare or amazing. But for me, it is.

When I began watching MMA I couldn’t imagine an Irish person taking on the best in the world, never mind someone from Limerick. And that may have changed on the countrywide spectrum in the last couple of years but not until now for Limerick.

And it’s not as if Limerick isn’t known as a sporting city; because it is. We have solid GAA teams, produce soccer players, are home to the best rugby team in Europe over the last 20 years and even have a boxing world champion in Andy Lee who will fill 30,000+ people into Thomond Park stadium later in the year when he defends his title against Billy Joe Saunders.

In MMA terms, though, Limerick, despite having a few up and coming signs of life and despite being the home of the first ever MMA event in Ireland (which my colleague Peter Carroll explained in his Foundations piece), is still relatively unknown.

Thanks to Catherine Costigan, though, that could soon all be to change. After her talent shone in her time fighting in Cage Warriors and, after a Twitter campaign, Invicta’s Shannon Knapp and Julie Kedzie signed her up to be part of the biggest women’s MMA organization in the world.

After WMMA Pioneer Aisling Daly, Costigan will be just the second Irish woman to fight for Invitca, although the circumstances are a lot different. When Daly fought for them, Invicta were very much a growing league and Daly was a veteran of the scene with even bigger plans in her future as well as being part of SBG team in Dublin which is home to the likes of McGregor, Pendred, Nelson and Holohan.

Costigan, on the other hand, has done it a different way. She did by learning her craft at the Limerick Pancration academy, having MMA veteran Rosi Sexton as a mentor and travelling around the country to improve her skillset. She did it through injuries, setbacks, match making difficulties and more.

Catherine Costigan, like her countrymates Conor McGregor and Aisling Daly before her, is paving the way for new parts of the country to produce top talent.

Now, as a 5-0 fighter, all she has to do is make the walk for her debut on Thursday night and represent herself (and Limerick) in the best way possible. I for one, will definitely be watching.


Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook