Less than four weeks out from his Brave 24 clash with Amir “The Prince” Albazi, I caught up with Flyweight Blaine O’Driscoll. Fighting out of SBG, Blaine has had a prolific career (7-2) which belies his rather unorthodox introduction to the sport. Unlike many of his peers, the Dublin native, had no prior experience with combat sports before taking up MMA at the age of 17.
“I didn’t even know what MMA was when I started. Somebody took me down with them to the club to train and I just never looked back from there. I just kept going, got a couple of fights and got hooked to it”
Blaine had ten fights at the amateur level, before his professional debut in 2015 on the Cage Kings 3 card. O’Driscoll faced fellow Irishman Dylan Sheehan, wrapping up a second-round victory by way of TKO.
In his early professional career Blaine was fighting at flyweight. However, he found it difficult to get matched at this weight class, and also found it challenging to make weight. Essentially eliminating the opportunity for him to take fights at short notice. Hopeful to secure more cage time, he moved up to Bantamweight for a time.
This move brought its own challenges. On one hand Blaine could make weight at a week’s notice if he needed to. But on the other hand, he found himself facing much bigger opponents in the bantamweight division. He eventually made the decision to return to flyweight.
“I think that was a good thing to do at the time. Even though I got a couple of losses at bantamweight, probably just because I was a bit smaller than the guys… It was good experience. I am used to fighting bigger people. Now that I have dropped back down to flyweight, I feel like I am fighting little babies all the time.”
Blaine recognized that in order to take his career to the next level, he would need to dial in his nutrition and fight at the lighter weight.
“I never felt like I could be a world champ at bantamweight, but I definitely think I can be the best in the world at flyweight.”
I was interested to get Blaine’s take on whether going into MMA cold, without a background in other martial arts, has helped him to be more well-rounded.
“Definitely helped. When I am fighting someone, I am looking at their weaknesses. I feel like I am pretty good everywhere. I can box, I can strike, kickbox, wrestle, Jiu jitsu as well is pretty good. So, I am more looking at what their weakness is.”
Blaine doesn’t have a set plan of attack, preferring instead to tailor this approach to each individual opponent. His current camp is going well, with weight coming off easily. He is getting a lot of sparring in with Brad Katona, a Jiu Jitsu black belt, who is a little heavier than Blaine’s upcoming opponent. All of which has him feeling ready to dethrone “The Prince” next month.
Chatting to Blaine on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I began to get the impression that the MMA Gods are smiling on the 27-year old. Undoubtedly his success has come on the back of hard work, dedication and sacrifice, but I couldn’t help feeling that there has been a bit of good fortune at play too.
I asked Blaine how he came to find himself on the Brave London card.
“I found out that they were having a show in July. Basically, I just asked John (Kavanagh) would he be able to get me on that. John worked his magic and got me the fight.”
Even the casual observer can’t help but notice that Brave CF seem to do things a little differently than other shows on the circuit. Their London show will be by invitation only. Those fortunate enough to secure an invitation can expect an intimate affair. With only a few hundred in attendance, the atmosphere should feel more like Vicar Street than The 3Arena. Not only does this promise a unique fan experience, but perhaps more importantly it removes the pressure of selling tickets from the fighters. Allowing them to focus on the task at hand.
Pundits are predicting that the upcoming fight against Albazi (11-1,) will be the Dubliner’s toughest test to date.
“People say that, because they are basing it on his record. But looking at it, a lot of his fights have been against bad opponents. Hand picked opponents. He fought one good guy (Jose Torres) in his last fight and he lost. I think his records is just a lot of smoke and mirrors. He’s not as good as everyone says he is.”
Blaine is predicting that he will stop Amir in the second round with strikes.
“I will take it handy in the first round, feel him out, and I am going to break him in the second.”
Talking about his ultimate ambitions, Blaine told me about his desire to make it to the UFC.
“The UFC are keeping their flyweight division so it’s looking good… Win a few fights, get my record up a little bit more, get that Brave title. I will be a double World Champ then. The UFC would be mad not to sign me.”
Ordinarily, I would take such lofty claims with a grain of salt, but having seen how seamless Blaine’s career has been to date, I am not ruling anything out.