Young Tralee fighter Dara O’Sullivan is having the time of his life at the moment as he helps train and prepare MMA superstar Conor McGregor for his upcoming fight with Dustin Poirier.
he 19-year-old is currently in Dubai, where he is training twice a day with the 32-year-old Dubliner, who is preparing for his latest return to the Octagon and his bout with Poirier on Sunday January 24. McGregor has already beaten his opponent once before, and the fight will take place in Abu Dhabi.
Speaking to The Kerryman last week, Dara described the experience of fighting with and training alongside McGregor. Dara said he is a fighter that he has always looked up to.
“I’m training in SBG and that’s the gym where he trains. Basically for his next fight, he’s going to be fighting a southpaw guy who’s similar to my height and the same weight as me, and so Conor’s coach, John Kavanagh, asked me if I’d like to spar with Conor just to see how we did, and he said we’d take it from there,” said Dara.
“I sparred him once out at his house, and from there, then, I got offered the opportunity to take it further. First, I went to Portugal with them for three weeks, where we got the training camp started, and after this, when we got back from Portugal, I sparred with him another couple of times,” he said.
“It was then that I got offered this latest chance to come out to Dubai with him, where we’ve been for the last few weeks, and I think we’re going to be out here for two more weeks at least,” Dara continued.
For Dara, the last few weeks in Dubai have been getting more and more intense as the day of the fight approaches, and while he joked that he certainly couldn’t complain about the sun, sea and sand in Dubai, this is all secondary to his daily training.
“The fight is going to be on at 4am back at home, so we’re waking up at 4am every morning and we’re training from 5am until maybe 6am or 7am every day.
Then, in the evening again, we have another session of maybe an hour or two again,” he continued. For any young up-and-coming fighter, the chance to train with, fight and witness an athlete such as McGregor up close and personal would be an amazing learning experience, and this is exactly what it feels like for Dara, who says he grew up idolising McGregor as a fighter.
“It’s unreal. Growing up, he was one of my idols as a fighter since I was a kid, so to be here sharing the Octagon with him, it’s amazing. I’m learning so much from him, even just the way that he’s handling all the pressure and how he’s staying calm, it’s great to see.
“With his training, how he’s training and how he is able to stay so focused, I’m taking it all in,” said Dara.
While Conor certainly has the edge on Dara (for now) in terms of accolades and belts won, Dara has plenty of feathers in his own cap, especially for someone still so young and at the beginning of his fighting career.
Back in 2014, aged just 13, he made history as the first Irish youth to fight a full Class A Thaiboxing match, beating his 17-year-old opponent in the process.
As recently as 2017, the then 16-year-old was ranked number one in the world by the World Kickboxing Union (WKU).
As well as being a highly skilled kickboxer, Dara is also well rounded in many other disciplines including Tae Kwon Do, Thaiboxing and K1.