Ireland’s most successful MMA team upgrading to new premises

TheJournal.ie

Renowned irish mixed martial arts team Straight Blast Gym is moving its headquarters.

Set up by the country’s first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt John Kavanagh, SBG Ireland currently has three locations in Dublin – the Long Mile Road, Exchequer Street and Blackrock – while its members include UFC fighter Conor McGregor and Cage Warriors champion Cathal Pendred.

Due to their ongoing success and the sheer number of people looking to get involved in MMA, however, Kavanagh has taken the decision to upgrade and told TheScore.ie that he is on the verge of signing a lease on a 10,000sq ft premises near the Bluebell Luas stop on the on the Naas Road.

His hope is to be settled in to the new location before the year is out.

“I’m hoping from the day I get the keys to when I start teaching out of there is two or three weeks maximum. I plan to be in there before Christmas anyway,” Kavanagh says.

“It won’t take long because it’s a big empty space so I have to transport over my training equipment. I’ve a cage and a ring bought and we will be putting in changing rooms.

“It’s a big jump up  but I’m hoping that the timing of it with our popularity and the high visibility will attract new members to cover the excess cost. It’s a bit of a risk but that’s life and you’ve got to take them sometimes.”

As well as the addition of brand new gym, a full-sized Octagon and boxing ring will also be available for members to train and prepare for fights. Kavanagh plans to add an SBG pro team shop, a food area and juice bar too.

“Until now I’ve only ever had two training areas – one for grappling and MMA and the other for kickboxing – but one of the main changes is that I’ll have an actual gym with weightlifting equipment.

We really want to set up an environment where guys can come in and spend their day there and really devote themselves to it. We want to raise the standard for martial arts centres in the country and hopefully it will start off others going to this kind of level. On top of that it increases our chances of international success in competition.

“We want to set up an environment where guys can come in and spend their day there and really devote themselves to it.

“We want to raise the standard for martial arts centres in the country and hopefully it will start off others going to this kind of level. On top of that it increases our chances of international success in competition.”

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The new SBG HQ will be in the Concorde Industrial Estate near Bluebell. Credit: Google Maps

With two fighters  - McGregor and Iceland native Gunnar Nelson – currently competing in the UFC and others sure to follow, SBG Ireland is gradually receiving recognition from around the world.

Kavanagh explains: “It’s definitely getting there but we’re still under the radar a little bit for the Americans. Those in the know are aware of us.

It’s funny how often journalists ask Conor is he going to go to the States for training when behind the scenes high-level fighters are messaging me about moving to Ireland.

“We’re getting a cult following but I’m guessing by the end of next year with the number of guys in the UFC and the international success we’re going to have, we’ll certainly be a lot better known.”

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