Last November People Sport spoke to Castlecoote native and MMA fighter Danni Neilan (28), who had just returned from Bahrain after picking up a silver medal at the IMMAF World Championships.
Danni spoke about first meeting her current coach, John Kavanagh of SBG, at a pool party in Las Vegas and her dream of winning a UFC title. Danni has been training as hard as ever since last year and is focussed on turning professional in the very near future.
Before that though she is preparing to fight Charlotte Brown on Saturday week (21st) on the Golden Ticket Fight Promotions card in Wolverhampton. The SBG fighter believes this may be her last fight among the amateur ranks.
“I struggled to get fights after the world championships in Bahrain,” she explains, “A lot of the girls with my level of experience had turned professional. I had my name down for every show but there were just no matches going.
“John Kavanagh was doing seminars in the UK and he was approached by a coach over there who knew of a girl looking for a fight so we basically head hunted her,” she said.
The Wolverhampton show will provide the platform and another opportunity for Danni to advance her MMA career against a hungry opponent.
“She’s (Charlotte Brown) a boxer and a blue belt in jiu-jitsu. She’s heavier than I’m used to too - I walk around at bantamweight - so this means not cutting weight. I am confident, I don’t see myself losing but I need to put a stamp on this fight so there’s no discussion about going pro”.
Danni added that while turning pro would be a major step, she was confident about the future.
“I will most likely go pro (right after this) because at amateur level, the struggle is real! Ahead of the Bellator event in Budapest (April 14th) my name was in there. It gives me a lot of confidence (being associated with big promotions)”.
Danni will be hoping to take another step towards realising her dream of winning a UFC belt within the next six years on Saturday week when she takes on Charlotte Brown in Wolverhampton.
In the meantime, she’ll continue to put in the hard rounds at both SBG in Dublin under the watchful eye of John Kavanagh, and Relentless Mullingar, under striking coach and boyfriend Alan McCormack as she continues on the road to professionalism.