‘The Carlow Kid’ – Taking the Cross-Country route to MMA Glory

‘ I want on that BAMMA 30 card – Big Time’   – Andy ‘ The Carlow kid’ Murphy BAMMA Featherweight

One of the aims of this blog is to bring you the real and hopefully unseen side of MMA as it pertains to the aspiring professional fighter trying to climb those first few rungs of the ladder. To that end I spent a happy afternoon interviewing Irish featherweight Andy Murphy, who based out of the Team Ryano Gym Kilkenny ( + Dublin and originally Waterford)

The first thing that strikes you talking to him is the absolute dedication and commitment he puts into pursuing his career dream of fighting as an MMA professional. You’d have to be in love with the sport to keep up the punishing schedule he keeps. First up. He has a full – time job as Fitness Instructor and supervisor in the Institute of Technology Waterford Arena. So there’s at least 39 hours a week gone straight away. Though he still manages to juggle in training sessions twice a day during the week and makes the weekly Saturday jaunt to Dublin to hook up with his head coach Andy Ryan and team-mates at Team Ryano Gym in Dublin. Did i mention he’s married to Marina and together they have one year old son Nathan? . Yes Life is busy and demanding but thoroughly enjoyable for Andrew as he reaches for the stars.

Andy’s route into MMA is probably one of the most interesting that I’ve heard. Simply put up to the age of 21 Andy Murphy was a Middle- distance runner. Cross country, Steeplechase and even 1,500 metres – a talented one to boot. He’s represented Ireland at International level at cross-country and represented the Irish Universities internationally as well.

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However having had 4 knee operations by the age of 21 – he decided he just couldn’t make it to an elite level in Atheltics and I suspect Andy isn’t the type to try and muddle along in the middle of the pack. As you can imagine that left a big hole in the then 21 year old’s life and around this time Murphy basically happened upon MMA by chance.

‘ When I walked up those stairs to my first sessions i had no real ambition to fight’

As he was chatting about this time in his life i was reminded of a Leonardo Da Vinci quote which i think sits very well on Andy’s shoulders

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things “

And boy has Murphy ‘happened to MMA’ – things quickly changed after that first session and 1 year in his coach at the time asked him did he want to take an amateur fight. To say he jumped at the chance is an understatement. Incidentally that first ever amateur bout was in O’Loughlin Gaels GAA hall in front of some diehards and a few befuddled football fans no doubt – so to go from that to fighting on cards in packed arenas in Belfast and Dublin is quite an achievement

‘I’m very happy with the hand I’ve been dealt so far’

Today he is two fights into his pro Career with 1 loss on his debut and 1 win ( a first round stoppage of Stephen Kilifin at BAMMA 28). These were two big fight nights one being in the SSE Arena in Belfast and the other in the 3 Arena in Dublin with thousands in attendance – yet he seemed to take to the pressure of the professional ranks like a duck to water especially in that BAMMA 28 win, with many observers saying it was finish of the night.

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A lot of the fighters coming into Irish MMA, especially maybe 5-10 years ago came from an old school boxing background whereas Murphy is completely different. He had literally no background. However what could be seen as an obstacle he has set to his advantage by becoming dedicated to all aspects of mixed martial arts. He is comfortable fighting in all areas and see this as a decided advantage.

‘ I feel now that i am good in all area’s of the game and I really don’t give a shit what direction a fight goes’

His Jiu-Jitsu coach is Rory McCann and Murphy places strong emphasis on No-Gi Jiu-jitsu in his training to date. Murphy mentioned several times how important his team mate Myles Price has been in his career and made it clear that he thought Price himself has all the skills and attributes to be fighting in the UFC – as of this minute.

One of the things that set’s him apart is his Cardio – all those years running haven’t been wasted. I certainly don’t expect to ever see the sight of him gassing out in the middle of a second round

“You Better check your engine before you fight me” 

What is impressive to me about ‘The Carlow Kid’ is how quickly and how much he learned from that first professional defeat. He very quietly and quickly set about assembling the missing pieces.

He uses the services of Richard Shanahan as his sports psychologist and  Joe Walton now as his nutritionist. Why ? I think he didn’t feel happy with his preparation for the weight cut before his debut fight and as he said about the fight itself

‘ I wasn’t fearful but I was more hopeful of winning than actually executing it’

Needless to say no such problems arose in his 2nd professional bout.

Talk inevitably got around to the just announced BAMMA 30 Card for July 7 in the 3 Arena in Dublin.  I asked him if he had any preference for a featherweight match-up in terms of personality or style and he said

‘I don’t really care – at this level you’ll be fighting good guys anyway’

A quick scan of his social media reveals he is both popular and grounded – he has built up a big following who are eager and encouraging about his career so it’s easy to understand why there is a groundswell of interest in who he might be fighting at BAMMA 30. He’s fighting fit at the moment and ready for that next step in his career. And like his box-fit classes the audience is getting bigger all the time

Finally i asked Ireland’s answer to Frankie Edgar how would he like fans to think of him and he simply revealed

‘ Andy Murphy is fighting on that card I want to go see that’

Well put. Indeed so would I.

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