Lydia Des Dolles
How have things being going for you with MMA Connect TV since we last spoke ?
Hi Cian, yeah really good thanks it’s been super busy, filming every weekend so it’s hectic at the minute but we’re having a lot of fun covering all these events.
Have you got any plans to expand MMA Connect TV in 2017 ?
Yeah of course, y’know I said MMACTV as a little bit of fun – there was a huge gap in the MMA market for what we do, I really just curate the show for what I would want as a punter. That’s why social media is social important to what I do. Snapchat, Facebook Live, Twitter. I cover everything, backstage, post-fight interviews, a 360 view of the event with my Vlog, I want the viewer to feel like they are at the show, I know what it’s like when you can’t get to an event and your scrolling through social media trying to get any information on results or videos of knockouts.
How did your appearance at Tallaght Talks go ? Tell me a small bit about the event itself ?
It was an absolute honour to be asked by Senator Lynn Ruane & Darren Dillon from Kickstart Fitness to attend never mind speak on the panel alongside Paddy Holohan, Richie Sadlier, & Al Porter. Martial Arts changed my life & I don’t think I would be sat here today if it wasn’t for Jiu Jitsu so if my contribution made one person think about starting to train it was worth it, but hopefully more of these events will happen in the future & it will open up the conversation of mental health in Ireland. It’s something that needs to be put to the forefront of people’s minds. Hearing some of the stories from families who have lost loved ones to suicide was heartbreaking, you feel so helpless.
The Irish MMA scene is going from strength to strength since we last chatted, can you give me an update on what’s been going on ?
The rapid increase of the sport has been fantastic, we’re seeing a lot more local shows, with a lot of new faces stepping into the cage for the first time which is brilliant. Our Team Ireland Amateurs are just home competing at the IMMAF European Championships in Prague, massive congratulations to Lee Hammond, Dave fogarty & Alex O Sullivan who all represented our country and brought home medals. But y’know we also have a huge influx of people joining Martial Arts Academies for fitness, which is great to see, there’s a reason why Combat Sports athletes are constantly in good shape [Laughs] & of course we’re seeing a lot more women getting involved with Jiu Jitsu for fitness & more importantly self defence.
You recently began working for IMMAA, the Irish MMA Association, can you tell us about your role?
Sure, I’m the social media & publicity manager for IMMAA, alongside Fergus Ryan our Public Relations Officer, so between us we look after the Communications Team for IMMAA. It’s been great so far, and the public response has been received really well. My aim for getting involved was to promote Team Ireland & our amateur competitors throughout the country. There is so much happening in the sport on amateur level that people don’t know about, and there is a lot of people, especially those on the committee that are trying to grow the sport & get it the recognition it deserves. Im extremely grateful to get the opportunity to work alongside John Kavanagh, Andy Ryan and all the guys that make up IMMAA, they’ve been involved in this sport since Day 1.
How big of an impact has John Kavanagh had on Irish sport ?
[Laughs] I don’t know how much hes influenced Irish Sport but Irish MMA, yes hugely, outside of Conor he’s probably had the biggest impact. John represents everything that a coach & subsequent role model should be, it’s really hard to explain, but when you meet him you’ll understand. Kids today look at John and Conor in the same way I looked up Roy Keane & Jack Charlton growing up, in my opinion theyve both transcended their successes.
Its BAMMA 27 in a few weeks’ time in the 3 Arena, how have preparations been going for that event ?
Busy, we’re six days out now from the start of press week so the controlled mayhem is about to begin. I’ve been working with them since BAMMA 22 and every show just keeps getting better, I know it might seem like I am bias, but a BAMMA show is a difference experience, their cards are always stacked with Irish & international fighters, Jude Samuel is ahead of the game with matchmaking, honestly I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be a part of such a wonderful team.
What fight are you most looking forward to at BAMMA 27?
I mean I want to watch them all, that’s the only negative about working at the show, is that you can’t sit down with the fans and enjoy it with them. But I’m most looking forward to Rhys McKee V Jai Herbert, both fighting for the lightweight title, Marc Diakiese’s Belt before he signed to the UFC. I first met Rhys when he signed to BAMMA for his pro debut, he’s one of the sweetest people I have met in MMA and to see him grow from this quiet shy kid from Ballymena into the superstar that he’s become, getting to see him fight for this title will be really special.
What’s the best part about the work that you do, with BAMMA or with MMA Connect TV?
With MMACTV it has to be the MMA fans at the shows, they’re the best bunch, I mean that sincerely, I have a whole routine now when we cover a show, get to the venue, set up the cameras with Karl & Jenny our videographers, say hi to all the fighters & staff, get the shows running order & as soon as the doors are open I’m down at the cage meeting everyone, they’ve all seen the show so their feedback on it is really important to me, without them it doesn’t make sense to do this. With BAMMA I love the emotional process that goes along with working on the press team, the day before the fight we have weigh ins – trying to get fighters to do photos and sign posters when they are in the middle of a weight cut & seeing their opponent face to face for the first time is difficult so you have to mind them a little bit, the next day when they get to the venue they’ve refueled but the pre-fight nerves & excitement kick in so you find they just want to talk about anything that’s not the fight, once they fought, my job is to take the winner from the cage to their medicals and then straight to the media room for their post fight interviews, that walk with them is a rollercoaster of emotions going from tears of joy to laughter. I get really emotionally invested, so for me that job is alot more than just working as part of the press team, it’s a privilege to share a little bit of their journey.
How has your training being going and will we see you in the Octagon soon ?
Really good, I still train Jiu Jitsu 5 days a week and I try do some striking 1 day a week, some days I’m like, right I’m quitting everything and just going to be a full time fighter but I’m 32 so I need to be a lot more realistic [laughs] I am definitely planning on competing MMA at an amateur level and I will always compete at Jiu Jitsu, one of my goals is to be a black belt world champion so I have a few years to prepare yet [laughs]
Conor Mc Gregor has been nominated for the RTE Sports Person Of The Year award , do you now feel with this particular piece of recognition that MMA is finally finding a place for itself in Irish sport ?
It’s a step in the right direction, but you would be an idiot to think that it was recognising the actual sport it’s not, Conor is ruling not just the MMA world but the sport world and RTE see that, having him has their sports person of the year does more for them then it does for him or MMA. But does he truly deserve that award, yes. He has carried this entire sport on his back for the last 3 years, he deserves more.
Has MMA captured the imagination in Ireland in the way you thought it would?
I’m not surprised if that’s what your asking? The growth, and the fans passion speak for themselves. I’m just really appreciative to play a tiny tiny part in getting people to see the true spirit of MMA.
Your following has grown steadily on both Twitter and Facebook and your interviewing style is something special , what are your hopes for 2017 and beyond ?
Honestly I didn’t ever design an interview style, i’m not a journalist, and I have no TV experience, I just speak from the heart and talk to the fighters like I would if there was no cameras there, what you see on camera, is how i am in everyday life, I think thats whats people enjoy, I don’t try to pretend to be something I’m not, and I’m not afraid to make mistakes or look silly. I just want to keep doing what we are doing, travel more, cover more shows outside of Ireland, were doing something really great, it’s fun and positive and it helps a lot of fighters get the exposure they deserve, that’s what’s important.
All the best at BAMMA 27 in a few weeks time…..