Exclusive Interview – Cage Contender commentator Stuart McQuitty

SevereMMA.com – How long have you been working in MMA and with Cage Contender?

Stuart – Prior to Cage Contender I had no experience working in MMA but have been involved with Cage Contender since it’s second show at the end of 2009 and have been commentating, interiewing and presenting at every show that has followed.

SevereMMA.com – How did you get into presenting and interviewing at MMA shows?

Stuart – I have done a lot of television presenting in the past and lived in London for a while working on various satellite programmes before returning to Belfast and setting up my own tennis academy. Living over here I have worked as a commentator and announcer for International tennis events and Ulster rugby and have been a long time fan of MMA and particularly the UFC. I have also known John Ferguson for a number of years and we had talked about him managing my presenting career, when one day he invited me to his “new thing” which was the first Cage Contender. I couldn’t go to that event but when the second came around I said I’d love to go and cheekily asked him if he wanted a commentator for the show! He asked if I knew anything about the sport and I told him that I’d been following it avidly for 7 years, so he gave me a go on a trial basis and we haven’t looked back since! Although I love the sport I have a background in presenting and journalism too so I feel I bring a professionalism to the presenting and commentating that doesn’t seem as if a rabid fan has been let loose with a microphone. This gives the whole show a modern, vibrant and professional feel which reflects well on the brand as a whole.

SevereMMA.com – With MMA still exploding and with Cage Contender headed for Liverpool in August, these are very exciting times and there is alot to come but what is the most exciting fight you’ve worked so far?

Stuart – There have been so many exciting fights at Cage Contender over the past two years and many of them are stand-out fights but I suppose the most recent one between Colin Robinson and Neil Wain takes some beating for sheer drama. The first two rounds saw Wain smother Robinson and take him down but by the start of the third, Wain was gassing badly and Big C was looking for that knockout blow, whether it was from a punch, kick or knee. The packed out King’s Hall Complex were all screaming for the local fighter and had the fight lasted a few more minutes, it looked fairly certain that Wain would have been vanquished. The great news is we will get to see another 15 minutes as they rematch at Cage Contender XIV in April!

SevereMMA.com – With Cage Contender having announced the signings of top fighters like Gunnar Nelson and Dean Lister, how much bigger do you see Cage Contender getting in 2012?

Stuart – I think we’ve only really reached the tip of the iceberg in terms of how big this promotion can be. There’s a reason why we’ve become so successful and that reason is John Ferguson. The bottom line is that people like and trust him, and he always follows through on his word which is why every gym in the country and beyond wants to have their fighters on the show. Every time we put on an event it gets a packed house in excess of 3.000 so the atmosphere at Cage Contender is unrivalled in Ireland, plus all the fights are well-matched and there is always entertainment for even a novice MMA fan. It’s very exciting this year to have so many UFC vets taking on our champions, and giving these Irish guys a chance to increase their profile and progress their careers. The UFC has been expanding very quickly too and is bound to be looking at more European expansion so we’re in an excellent position to capitalise on this potential growth.

SevereMMA.com – You have seen up close and spoke to many top fighters at Cage Contender, who in your opinion is the best unknown fighter to look out for in 2012?

Stuart – I’m not sure that any fighters are completely “unknown” any more due to increased TV coverage from promotions like ourselves and others, but everything I’ve seen so far from both Conor McGregor and Joe Clarke suggests to me that they could go all the way to the UFC. Having said that, the overall level of competition in Ireland is clearly increasing as the youngsters starting out are all now much more rounded fighters than might have been the case even 5 years ago, and this means they will be much more prepared to step up to the UFC if, and when, the time comes. Many of the guys now are totally dedicating themselves to the sport, not only in how they train but in how they live and with excellent gyms all over Ireland (North and South), there’s no reason why several guys from these shores won’t become household names in the future.

SevereMMA.com – With 2011 behind us, what are your best Cage Contender memories from the year?

Stuart – I love every single second of working on the show and was fortunate enough to work with Ian Freeman during the year but my main partner in the booth is Barry Oglesby and I wouldn’t trade him for all the money in Dana White’s pockets. Barry and I clicked right away and I love the chemistry we have as a presenting and commentating duo and love being in the middle of a great match just saying what I see while Barry provides the technical insight. I recall the Ben Davis fight from Dublin when Barry had mentioned that body kick that Davis had just landed and he went to say “now watch out for the head kick” and all of a sudden, BOOM – the head kick from hell and landed and knocked Murnikas clean out.
Another great memory is celebrating after one of the Cage Contender’s in Dublin at a local nightclub with John buying the champagne and hanging out with some of the fighters, some of the sponsors, some of the ring girls and some models from Ireland’s top agency! That’s the other thing that is great about this sport – the guys who compete are clearly as hard as nails but everyone I’ve met has been a real gentleman and it’s probably no coincidence that two of our champions, Chris Fields and Norman Parke, are the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet. Good things do happen to good people.

SevereMMA.com would like to thank Stuart for taking the time to do this interview.

Owner/Editor of SevereMMA.com. Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.