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Ireland's first UFC fighter backs McGregor for a quick finish

Tom Egan fought at UFC 93 in Dublin in 2009.

Tom Egan has been helping to prepare Conor McGregor for tomorrow night's UFC Boston main event.
Tom Egan has been helping to prepare Conor McGregor for tomorrow night's UFC Boston main event.
Image: Ricardo Guglielminotti/Custom Captures

– Niall Kelly reports from Boston

CONOR McGREGOR CASTS such a long shadow, you’d nearly miss the fact that Ireland’s first UFC fighter is standing by his side this week.

Tom Egan has been putting his old friend and SBG team-mate through his paces ahead of Sunday night’s main event against Dennis Siver in Boston.

“I can tell you right now that for a man who’s cutting to 145lbs, he’s almost already on his weight and he looks bigger than he ever has before,” Egan told The42 on Friday. ”This man is getting better and better.”

Egan made history when he was handed his UFC debut on home soil in Dublin in 2009. The opportunity came too soon for the 21-year-old, who was only 4-0 as a professional at the time; Egan was easily beaten by John Hathaway in the first round and was released soon afterwards.

The welterweight left Ireland for a fresh start in America in 2010. Now he lives in Boston, his Dublin accent replaced by a distinctive Massachusetts twang, and works out of Peter Welch’s gym as a personal trainer and fitness coach.

After a difficult 2014, Egan is plotting his return to the cage early this year. He is signed to CES MMA — “probably the biggest promotion in the north-east” — where he hopes to bounce back from two straight defeats and start adding more Ws to his 7-5 record.

“The last time I fought was last March but unfortunately I went through some personal issues last year, I went through a separation and divorce. I had to get used to and acclimate to my new lifestyle.

“I wanted to keep fighting. I was talking about doing a 185lb four-man tournament in October but it ended up not going through and so I decided to take the rest of the year to myself and make sure that I gave myself the room to grow and develop and acclimate to my new lifestyle.

“That’s why I haven’t been back in the cage, some personal issues, but I’m cool talking about it now. I’m ready to get busy. I’ve nothing holding me back. I’ve nothing but good people, good energy and good support around me.

“Conor’s behind me 100% all the time, he always has been, and I’m 100% behind him. This year will be a good year. I got a couple of emails about shows in March and April — maybe I’ll fight in both. Fuck it!”

While Egan forges a new path Stateside, the seed which he planted at UFC 93 has blossomed into a full-blown Irish invasion, led by McGregor.

The signings of Joseph Duffy and Paul Redmond from Cage Warriors this month takes the total number of Irish fighters on the roster to eight. Four of them — McGregor, Cathal Pendred, Paddy Holohan and Norman Parke — fight in the TD Garden on Sunday evening.

McGregor is a red-hot favourite to take care of Siver and set up a featherweight title shot against Brazilian champ Jose Aldo. A close friend since the days when nobody knew their names, Egan insists that The Notorious has an X-Factor that no other fighter can match.

“Siver to his credit is a great athlete and a great martial artist. He does what he needs to do — he competes, he shows up, he’s a fighter. You can’t take anything away from Dennis but Conor is that bit more than everybody. Even Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey — Conor is more.

“Based on that, I can tell you that this will be a quick fight for Conor. He will get the finish inside the first round and I firmly believe that he will do it inside the two minutes that he says.”

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Niall Kelly

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