LIMERICK MMA fighter Catherine Costigan makes her return to the octagon this Saturday in London’s 12,500-seater SSE Arena. Ireland’s trailblazing female Mixed Martial Arts star fights on the KSW 50 card against Poland’s Aleksandra Rola in the Wembley venue.
Costigan hasn’t been inside the cage for competitive action in almost 18-months but is now anxious to make up for lost time.
“Mum needed me more than the octagon did. I needed to be there with her and help her when she was told she had a tumor on the artery of her pancreas,” explained Costigan this week to LeaderSport.
“What goes on in the cage is very different to life - seeing people sick in hospital can give you a different outlook in life. It certainly makes you appreciate what opportunities you get in life,” said explained - adding that her mum was now 100% in remission.
Costigan has fought for promotions such as BAMMA, Cage Warriors, and Invicta during her career but wants another challenge.
“They are calling me a veteran because I am 39 but if I was fighting me I would be worried about how much experience I have. I am not going to lie down in there - I’m going in extremely confident in myself. It’s MMA so you never know - one false move and it’s over in 10-seconds but I’ve pushed myself the hardest ever because I won’t let myself down,” she vowed.
A coach in Pankration MMA Kickboxing Academy in Ballysimon, Costigan is very much aware of her position as a role model for women’s MMA and the kids in her gym.
“I never fight for the money - it’s about being an ambassador for what I do. Maybe fellow girls will follow in my footsteps. When they see how I conduct myself in the octagon, they might feel this is a future thing I want to do. I would love them to come to my gym and get even confidence out of it - or simply believe in themselves. In Ireland there are four to five girls right now - I remember training in America a few years ago in a class and there were about 10 professionals in that class alone,” outlined Costigan.
“About 10-12 years I’ve been an MMA fighter - it started out as karate and kick-boxing but then Dermot McGrath the head coach in Pankration was watching MMA and said this is going to take off. People were telling us we were mad but look at how popular it is now,” she explained.
Costigan acknowledges that Conor McGregor has brought MMA to the public conscious in Ireland.
“If I said 15-years ago that I was a MMA fighter, people would not have known what that actually was, whereas now I can see well I do what Conor does - except I go about things slightly different to how he does!”
She continued: “Even after each fight I can see that people are getting to know we more and respect what I have done. They see how hard I have worked. I don’t conduct myself the way Conor does sometimes. I’ve got kids that look up to me every day in the gym and I want to teach them how to be good human beings in life. I am not going to trash talk, I am going to go out and let my fighting do the talking and how I conduct myself before and after the fight is extremely important to me”.
Out of the cage since 2017, Costigan could have opted to ease into retirement but once her mum received good news about her health, a return to the octagon was always a possibility.
“I teach full time so there was little bit of me thinking that I had to show the kids what I was trying to teach them. I have been training all the time so I am in the best shape I could be in. For me the desire is still there and the hunger is still there - if it wasn’t, I would be very honest and say no I have no desire for this anymore. I am up for this challenge and as soon as I got the call, I said yeah 100%. There is always a little part of you that thinks to step away but you know what, getting into the cage always gives me a great insight in terms of coaching kids who can hopefully be future world champions,” he outlined.
“This is one of the biggest stages in the world - Wembley in London. I was there at a show once but never did I think that I would be walking out to compete there.”
Saturday’s card commences at 6pm with Costigan’s bout the first of eight confirmed bouts.
All are available to watch live via online PPV on www.kswtv.com