Aisling Daly: “Superstar” Conor McGregor will save the TUF brand

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Aisling Daly is confident that Conor McGregor can reinvigorate the TUF platform in his role as a coach in the latest season of the reality television series where the Irishman pits his Team Europe against Urijah Faber’s Team USA.

Famously, the SBG starlet did not have a fantastic experience during her time on the show, but still turned up to see McGregor and teammate Artem Lobov in the advanced screening of the premiere in Dublin this week.

“I think it was a completely different season this time around,” explained the former world champion. “For Artem, I think the general lifestyle was easier than what the rest of us had to go through. Chris and Cathal had it a little bit easier than me because they had each other, I just feel like I had the worst time because of the people I had to share my time in the house with.

“It was just a bunch of girls and I knew nobody to begin with really, I was literally on my own. Artem was lucky, as we saw in the first episode he had his coaching staff cornering him in there – his number one sparring partner and his close friend. I can imagine how it would have helped me to have someone like Paddy in the house. It would’ve been a bit more of an enjoyable experience.

“This season is going to be huge. That first episode was very entertaining and I can really see it being huge because of what Conor brings to the table. You can tell from the first episode that he and Faber have good chemistry. They seem to have a healthy respect for each other, but their banter is very amusing. I’m looking forward to seeing how that progresses.

“I feel they are both very competitive. I believe Faber has the worst team out of the two, so that could definitely prove to be a stumbling block. You could see him saying it at the end, ‘we’re the Bad News Bears’ – I’m sure his team were delighted to see that!” she laughed.

‘Ais the Bash’ also outlined why she thinks that McGregor’s impact on the show will be huge, considering his international celebrity and the numbers that will tune in to see him in his coaching capacity.

“Conor being a coach on the season is huge, I don’t think the season could’ve happened if Conor wasn’t on it. That really might have been the end of the whole TUF brand, they might have just left it at TUF 21. It was starting to die before this series, they tried different angles like the live show, then creating a whole division out of another season.

“Them seasons might have done well, but I always got the impression that they probably didn’t do as well as they thought it would. There have been seasons dedicated to different continents and countries, and it just felt tired and overused. Conor, being the superstar that he is, everything he touches turns to gold. Everybody wants to hear what he has to say.

“Even at that ‘Go Big’ press conference, it was all about him. He made everybody else that was there look inadequate. He was up there throwing out figures, he was effortlessly winning arguments with everyone – that’s what he brings to the UFC every time. Now that’s being condensed into episodes of The Ultimate Fighter and people are definitely going to tune in.”

While Paddy Holohan, Cathal Pendred, Gunnar Nelson and McGregor have had the privilege of performing in front of the passionate Irish fans last year in Dublin as UFC fighters, Daly was trying to join them on the roster as she took part in TUF: A Champion Will Be Crowned.

The Irish strawweight is looking forward to trying to show the new generation of Irish MMA fans what she’s all about when she takes on Ericka Almeida in Dublin on October 24.

“Obviously all of the guys – Paddy, Cathal, Conor and even Gunni – they’re so well known now but things only really started to blow up for them after Dublin. I wasn’t there that night, and while they used that Dublin show as a launchpad for their career, I was locked up in that TUF house.

“I know there had to be a lot of people in the crowd wondering what Paddy was talking about when he said ‘my friend in the big house’ in his post-fight interview. They probably thought I was in prison!

“I hope that all of the new MMA fans will get behind me, but I’m not anxious thinking about it, it’s really exciting for me. I know what I can do, I’ve been doing it for years, but I’m very eager to impress people who are turning up after Conor has made them take an interest in the sport.

“You know, I want to show them what I’ve been doing for the last ten years. It’s a very exciting time for me. I know I’m going to put on a great performance for everyone out there,” claimed Daly.

Finally, Daly insisted that she has finally shaken the cobwebs off after her uncomfortable time on TUF last year and that she is back to her old self.

“I haven’t felt this good in ages. The Ultimate Fighter did take a lot out of me physically and mentally – I ended up with all sorts of problems after it. This is the first time I’ve felt back to my usual self during a training camp.

“At training recently I asked my coach had he noticed a change in me, and even John said that he thought I was back to my old self. I was kind of traumatized after (TUF) but the other factor is that I’m one of the bigger girls at 115 lbs. It’s very hard to walk around so low in weight for two months – you mess up your body a lot doing that kind of stuff.”

@PetesyCarroll

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