Ben Forsyth – I see a 1st round, rear naked choke, face to the canvas , finish in his future



Kieran is probably one of the darkest competitors I’ve ever met – and maybe i need a little of that.


The much anticipated BAMMA30 is nearly upon us and with 15 fights it promises to be a great show in the 3 Arena on Friday night (July 7th). There are 10 SBG fighters on the card and this is in no small part due to the continued success and solid foundations laid by John Kavanagh and of course his star pupil Conor Mcgregor.

Light Heavyweight Ben Forsyth is one of those 10 SBG fighters. In a crowded field he’s aiming to give a standout performance and in the process bag a little redemption after a couple of defeats in the Middle East. Speaking to Ben on the phone it is quite obvious he is still smarting from those losses in particular the last one  to German Marco Knoebel in Abu Dhabi.

I’m looking to show i can overcome adversity,  call it Redemption – to show i can overcome these losses and move on to bigger and better things


His last two fights have come under the Brave Combat Federation Promotion which is funded by none other than the Prince of Bahrain. Before committing to the 3 fight deal he consulted his coach John Kavanagh who as ever offered sage advice

You’ll get more exposure in Ireland but probably a better contract in the Middle- East

Ben is quick to point out that he has been well looked after by the promotion and they even allowed him to jump at the chance to fight on the BAMMA30 card as it didn’t clash with anything they had planned for him over there. Although he definitely feels he has a score to settle in Abu Dhabi, in terms of getting a W under his belt in the last fight of his current contract.

Speaking of that last fight he felt that his striking skills let him down on the night. The 26 year old has spent a lot of his time, since returning to Ireland from Australia in 2013, working on his Jiu-Jitsu , wrestling and grappling to become a more rounded fighter in the Octagon. In fact as a Blue-Belt Jiu-Jitsu practitioner he has recently won the Irish Open. However Ben admits that he may have neglected his striking during this period which he see’s as one of his core strengths along with the kicking he has developed from his Taekwan-do days.

Although the Record books will show he was submitted by a Rear Naked Choke he got nailed by a number of right hands which caused the damage to set up the finish. Suffice to say Ben has lost a lot of sleep over this defeat.

Up to The Brave Combat fights everything had been going pretty much according to plan. His amateur pedigree is very solid and he left the unpaid ranks as an MMA Light Heavyweight European champion. His first two fights as a professional brought two wins culminating in a decision victory over the tough as nails Pelu Adetola at BAMMA26.

Despite those recent setbacks I’m fairly confident he will make short work of his opponent Matthew Clempner on Friday night and more importantly so is Forsyth

I’ll be happy with a first round finish and i think he’ll give me the opportunities. Matthew’s background is Judo and they are used to short bursts of two minute rounds.  I see a rear naked choke, face to the canvas , finish in his future

Of course It would be remiss of me not inquire about Straight Blast Gym’s most famous pupil and he admits that there is a huge buzz around the place with the approaching Mayweather fight. Although Conor is firmly ensconced in a separate, adjacent Gym in preparation for that fight. I often wonder how Kavanagh does it with so many fighters to look after and across so many different promotions

John run’s a tight team but he’s still on the mat with us every single day


I’m sure it would be easy to get distracted by the bright , reflected light that Conor’s fame has shone on SBG and try to score some cash in Events like BAMMA30 but Ben is interested in laying foundations that will last throughout his career and beyond.

For Example BAMMA allow Fighter’s to sell advertising on their T-shirts and Shorts but as of yet this space remains vacant on Forsyth’s gear as he would prefer backers that want to a build relationship rather ones looking for cheap advertising.

In the same vein he was pretty long standing ties with his support team. He works with nutritionist and sleep expert Tom Coleman who has worked previously with Conor McGregor,  Ben places a big emphasis on Yoga and has separate Fitness and Strength & Conditioning coaches.

One of the big surprises to me was that Ben is also working with former All-Ireland winner and Jiu-Jitsu Purple belt Kieran Mcgeeney. I couldn’t help but pry  – as Mcgeeney is very well known in Irish G.A.A circles. Renowned for his intensity as a player and manager I was interested to know what he brought to the Forsyth table

Kieran is probably one of the darkest competitors I’ve ever met – and maybe i need a little of that.

McGeeney helps him with the mental side of preparation in terms of goal-setting and developing a competitive edge and competitive advantage inside the Octagon.

‘ He should be in my corner on the night with John  – all things going to plan’


So what does the future hold for Ben Forsyth?  All going well he’ll have another BAMMA W to his name Friday night. What then?

Ben see’s plenty of opportunity in that Bellator Light Heavyweight Division. There are a lot of older guy’s in that division and it is no secret Bellator have some pretty huge financial muscle propelling them forward these days. A good win in the 3 Arena could set him up nicely for a rumored joint Bellator/BAMMA promotion towards the end of the year. With BAMMA a little light on Light Heavyweights at the moment a good performance could put him firmly on the map again.

Forsyth is currently 2 wins and 2 losses in his career and of his goal setting he says

Conor Mcgregor had a couple of set backs early in his career and was 4 and 2 after 6 fights. I’ve got the same goal to be 4 and 2 by the end of the year. Or even better 5 and 2.

Well lets hope what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Best of Luck Ben!


Meet Richard Kiely – ‘ I Punch like a Guy 2 Weight Divisions Heavier….’

‘ I Can’t wait to run through the welterweight division I almost feel sorry for whoever has to fight me’

Richard Kiely BAMMA Welterweight

I was flicking through Twitter at the weekend and i came across the above quote in a BAMMA poster announcing the signing of Irish Welterweight Richard Kiely.  I thought to myself that’s a fairly bold fucking statement. Second thought. Let’s see if we can get an Interview with this guy!. Sounds Interesting. Anyway a couple of social media interactions later we were on the phone and chatting away.

Richard Kiely fights out of SBG Ireland and is coached by none other than John Kavanagh. Richard himself coaches out of SBG in Tallaght , Co. Dublin and it is clear that he is immersed in all things MMA and the pro fight game. At the moment he is preparing and looking forward to his first fight on the multi-fight deal with the BAMMA Promotion. That first fight isn’t set in stone as of yet but he’s is fairly confident he’ll be on the BAMMA 30 event card in the 3 arena in July.

Although he only has one professional fight under his belt he announced himself to the paid ranks in some style at BAMMA 27. His knee finish of Keith McCabe was brutal, explosive and devastatingly quick.

One of my first questions to him was what do you see as your strengths or your style and his reply was immediate and certain.

‘ I punch like a guy two weight divisions heavier and i move like guy two weight divisions lighter’

Indeed i watched back the footage of his last fight against McCabe and his footwork is extremely impressive, constantly on his toes and his movement IS lightening quick as a consequence.

While Kiely’s striking and movement are instantly noticeable he considers himself an all-rounder. It is easy to see from his cage presence that he was a former Irish Champion kick boxer and works hugely with John Kavanagh, Graham Henry and Dave Roche on his Jiu-jitsu. He is just beautifully light on his feet and his take-down defence against McCabe looked in rag good order.

In fact when describing this on the phone he somewhat under-statedly described it thus

‘McCabe tried to take me down but i was able to walk through him like he wasn’t there’

‘It was a fairly decent knock-out alright’ 

For me it was finish of the night. Look it up on Youtube – it took McCabe a serious amount time to get off the canvas.  It is amazing to think that Kiely had ruptured ankle ligaments shortly before this fight but as he said himself he had just too much work put into training for the fight – nothing was going to stop him from entering the ring on the night.

This  is spoken in a matter of fact fashion and i think with out any disrespect meant at all.

In his previous life Richard worked as an Insurance Operations Manager but i guess he knew that his talent deserved and  required a full-time investment of his energies and the 5 fight deal he has negotiated with BAMMA is the first of what he hopes will be many rewards from this commitment to his craft.

Richard is highly complimentary and grateful for the talented group of MMA technicians that he can call team-mates and these include Dylan Tuke, Gunnar Nelson and even Conor Mcgregor. The respect for Head Coach John Kavanagh is immediate and obvious which will come as no surprise to anyone in Irish MMA. In any interview I’ve seen of Kavanagh he is grounded and his confidence is based on solid ground – namely a savage work ethic, honesty and a desire every day to get better. As Richard said to me

‘ John wouldn’t put me in there unless i was ready and I am’

Inevitable the BAMMA contract has drawn some media attention and maybe some of the welterweights in his division are not over the moon about a fighter with 1 professional fight getting it. Richard address this in his simple and uncompromising style

‘ A lot of the Welterweights are moaning. I Don’t care. Most of them move so slowly it’s like a scene from the Matrix ‘

This includes two top ranked guys Terry Brazier and Walter Gahadza who face off at BAMMA 29 next month. He wants the winner of that fight after he fights on the BAMMA 30 card. It is clear that he is gearing up to that welterweight title shot as quickly as is feasibly possible.

Richard is back to full fighting fitness after that ankle injury and is training mode for that expected fight in July. His walking around weight is in the 180-185 region and he likes to keep in easy range of that 170 number. In fact he was very specific in saying that he’s expecting to be at 178 in a couple of weeks.

Outside of his training,  life revolves around his partner Jade and their little boy and given his busy twice daily training regime he doesn’t have the time for too many outside distractions. Sunday is recovery day and the SBG ethos place huge emphasis on fight specific training and being conscious of the body’s need to recover.

Other than that his Mum is a huge support and when i asked him do people call him ‘Richard’ or ‘ Richie’ he said only his Mam  calls him Richard and laughingly said

‘ Well my Mam ….she’s tougher than any MMA fighter i know’

I don’t know about that but the MMA son is off to a great start as professional!