By Caoilte de Barra
The beginning of August marked history for Combate Global on many levels. The promotion welcomed their first European tournament where four lightweight fighters competed to win entry to the promotion’s annual Copa Combate.
The four-man, one-day tournament drew eyes from across the globe with the overall event setting new rating milestones for the organisation. As of August fifth, the viewership had topped the UFC’s most recent live event on ESPN.
The highlight of the historic event was the tournament, which included 2018 Junior World Bronze Medalist Pa Lehane. Lehane created history of his own by becoming the first Irishman to compete under the Combate Global banner. He featured at three IMMAF events, moving from the junior ranks through to senior before opting to turn pro this year.
The SBG Cork City representative entered the tournament as a pro debutant with a wealth of amateur experience behind him. After travelling across the World he drew a tough task in the tournament opener in Sebas Santana Guedes, a Spanish prospect with over ten pro fights.
Despite some adversity in the single-round tournament opener, Lehane overcame his opponent’s grappling prowess and looked confident in the 4oz gloves. He almost secured a finish near the end of the bout but the round came to an end. The judges believed he had done enough in the five minutes and he got the nod to proceed to the final. Following the fight, he credited the amateur experience that allowed him to feel confident against such an experienced opponent.
“The reason I was so confident fighting an 8-3-1 guy on my debut is knowing I’ve had such a hard amateur career fighting multiple times at IMMAF events.”
This was mentioned in the weeks prior by his teammate, Ryan Spillane, who believed that Lehane would have no problem competing in quick succession after having done so at an amateur level.
In the tournament finale, Lehane showed his sharp striking skills yet again to outclass Maxime Giacalone, finishing the Frenchman within one round via KO/TKO. The win cemented Ireland’s entry to the Copa Combate and the Cork-based fighter is prepared to stay with the promotion with eyes on another fight this year.
“I’ve signed a multi-fight deal with Combate and am already in talks about a quick turnaround.”
Victory in the tournament topped off a historic week for his gym that saw both Lehane and his teammate Spillane turn pro. Both men featured heavily on the IMMAF scene during their amateur career and are currently under the tutelage of Team Ireland coach Liam-Og Griffin.