CAPE TOWN – Global sports icon, Conor McGregor has made a number of dreams come true.
It is confirmed that the mixed martial arts superstar and former Ultimate Fighting Championship double-champ will be sponsoring Ireland’s Youth team for the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s 2021 Youth MMA Championships set to take place in Sofia, Bulgaria at the EFE Marinela from July 29 to August 1.
As per IMMAF, it was confirmed this past weekend that the Irishman would be assisting the team by covering the entry fee, accommodation and flights of 27 youths and 20 coaches.
“Wishing the Irish squad the very best of luck in their quest at the World Championships this year! From the fighters to the coaches, I know the future of our fighting nation is in excellent hands. Fight with the pride of the Emerald Isle, team! We are all with you. Good luck!” said McGregor (22-5) who will be fighting USA's Dustin Poirier (27-6 1 No Contest) in the much anticipated trilogy event taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on July 11.
“It’s fantastic for all the athletes, coaches and the Irish MMA community that Conor has shown his passion for the sport MMA in this way and is helping pave the way for the next ‘Conor’,” says IMMAF President Kerrith Brown.
“We at IMMAF are appreciative of Conor’s support of grassroots athlete development and his demonstration of support for (Conor’s coach) John Kavanagh’s work in the MMA community as President of the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association.
“The value of this endorsement extends beyond the money in terms of the focus and sense of purpose it gives to the team. This is what IMMAF is all about, working in communities to deliver value from MMA for social good,” Brown added.
As per IMMAF, the last world championships tournament (in 2019 - 2020 was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic), the Irish Youth team ranked 6th place in the medals table with nine medals out of a pool of 269 participants from 26 countries, and a top 10 dominated largely by state-sponsored national teams with Team USA (United States of America) placing first.
It was confirmed just last week that South Africa’s Youth team will sadly have to sit out of the Youth Championship due to Bulgaria placing a travel ban on a handful of African countries following an increase in coronavirus infections across the globe.
“President Raymond Phillips received a call from the IMMAF President Kerrith Brown today (last week) to inform South Africa that Bulgaria had placed a travel ban on most African countries at this present time,” said Mixed Martial Arts South Africa, CEO Jason Brown.
All focus will now be on the Junior and Senior Team heading to the IMMAF World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan in November and December.
South African’s own MMA superstar and UFC middleweight, Dricus du Plessis (15-2) – who will be sharing the prestigious fight card with Conor on July 11 when he faces top prospect, USA's Trevin Giles (14-2) – is doing his part in assisting Team SA get to the World Championships after it was confirmed that he will be doing a grappling seminar in conjunction with SAMMAAF (South African Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Fund) next month.
This fundraiser is open to the entire MMASA squad (Youth, Junior and Seniors) free of charge, but any other athletes – be it professional, amateur – or just fans of the sport are welcome to come join.
The seminar will cost R250 per person and all proceeds will go to the Athletes Fund. With MMA not yet backed by the South African government, it can be very tough for athletes to see their dreams come to fruition, and this is why the SAMMAF Non-Profitable Company was started.
“SAMMAAF was born to assist with the financial needs and guidance for up-and-coming MMA athletes,” says SAMMAAF Chairman and co-director, Justin Ferrier.
From a South African point of view, it is estimated that R35 000 will cover each athlete (travelling, accommodation, competition etc.).
If you would like to assist or donate to Team South Africa, you can email SAMMAAF on [email protected] or contact +27 (0)82 740 9195 (Justin Ferrier). Alternatively, you can contact MMASA CEO, Jason Brown on 071 889 7985.