By Caoilte de Barra
When you think of early pro prospects to watch at the moment, Ireland’s Ciarán Clarke is certainly up there. The fighter from Drogheda has been making waves in Bellator MMA since leaping pro in 2019. He is now preparing for his fourth bout, set to take place at Bellator 270 in Dublin, Ireland.
It has been some time since we have seen him in the cage and the plus year-long wait will come to an end on October 5th. He will be part of the show that welcomes back the always electric Irish crowd. Speaking ahead of his fight, the former IMMAF competitor detailed how excited he is to get back in there and show how he has improved.
“I can’t wait to be honest because it’s been thirteen months since the last one. It doesn’t feel like that though with the year that we have. I’ve still been training flat out and helping some of the guys that were fighting away, the likes of Peter Queally, Pedro Carvalho, Pawel Politylo, Richie Smullen. So yeah I’ve been training all year round and just delighted to get back in there. Now it’s my turn to get in there and show my improvements from over the last 13 months.”
“I really feel like a different fighter now, I feel like I’ve added more tools to my game.”
His last outing was a big one as he went into enemy territory to take on an experienced pro in Jean N’Doye in Paris, France. The 26-year-old explained that the atmosphere was much different to a crowded 3Arena but likened the experience of fighting abroad to his IMMAF days.
“I like fighting away, it reminds me of going to the IMMAFs and I enjoy it because fighting at home it’s a lot of pressure on ticket sales and there are a lot more people coming. Of course, I can only put as much pressure as I can on myself but it’s a different vibe fighting abroad and I enjoy both.”
During his amateur days, Clarke donned the Irish flag on ten occasions across five IMMAF events. He credits his IMMAF days for helping him develop as a fighter and mentioned how if possible, he would have liked to have had a longer amateur career, like the elite Irish boxers..
“It’s huge to be honest, even if I was to just do the IMMAFs, they’re literally priceless. Making weight every day, fighting every day. I mean you fight today and tomorrow you don’t know who you’re fighting and I loved it. If it was something you could pursue, make a career out like the Olympics the way Katie Taylor or Michael Conlan did. If that was a route to take I definitely would have stayed amateur and fought the best guys.”
“Now you have the Russian guys after coming in too, I was there the first year they came in as well. And I mean you can truly say you’re the best in the world at amateur when you compete at these.”
“My goal for a long long time was to have the Irish flag around my shoulders, hear the national anthem and to be on top of that podium, unfortunately, I didn’t reach it but the experience gained was literally invaluable.”
When he started his martial arts journey 10 years ago he didn’t envision turning pro at first. However, after being on the fight team as an amateur and having been around through the gym changing. He now finds himself as a pro on the team and has re-signed with Bellator MMA to continue to pursue his dream.
“To make my professional debut with one of the biggest promotions in the world and to be re-signed with them now and to be 3-0, it really is unbelievable and it’s only the start.”
“I was the amateur on the team coming up and you know even to think back to the yellow mats in SBG, to just be a part of that at the time it was a great buzz. Now it’s our turn, some years later and we’re in the new gym in SBG. You look at Peter and Sinead, fighting for World titles, headlining shows, it’s unbelievable. Everyone is preparing together and the only way is up.”