Ciaran Mulholland is looking to book his name into the history books as the first Cage Warriors Academy ‘champ-champ’ after claiming the South East amateur title at BCMMA 20.
Mulholland defeated top amateur prospect Jack Eglin to win the Cage Warriors South East 125lb championship at Charter Hall, Colchester, on Saturday, Nov 25.
The finish came at 2:21 of round two when the Belfast native forced his opponent into verbal submission with an armbar.
“He’s a great striker, we’ve watched a few of his fights, he’s a black belt in kickboxing,” Ciaran Mulholland told MMA Plus after emerging from his post-fight medical. “He came out and he hit me with a few hard shots in the first round, I was just getting a read of the fight.
“Second round comes out, we’re both striking, I get in the clinch, he tries to take me down, I’m on my back, I work, I work, I work, armbar was there, triangle was there, I was just waiting on the armbar. He comes up for the strike and armbar straight on, no problem.”
It was a shock victory for ‘The Dark Horse’, but one which he knew was possible if he could avoid Eglin’s hazardous stand-up.
“He is a great guy, his striking is second-to-none, he needs to keep his head up,” he said, championing Eglin’s striking prowess as one of the toughest he’s come across. “I think part of his approach needs to capitalise on his game. On the feet, without obviously discrediting myself, I think if he keeps [me] on the feet, he probably takes this fight.
“Jack, he needs to go and look at this fight, if I don’t take him down, I don’t win this fight.”
Ciaran Mulholland aiming to be the first amateur to win two Cage Warriors Academy titles
As the Belfast MartialArts Academy fighter readies himself to turn pro in Spring 2018, he is prioritising one last order of business before he closes out his amateur tenure.
With the Cage Warriors South East amateur championship belt now firmly around his waist, his eyes are set on unifying the gold with the vacant North West Academy title, which falls under the Shinobi MMA FC banner in Liverpool.
Cage Warriors will return to the Echo Arena on February 24 with Cage Warriors 90, and with an amateur undercard set to play warm-up for the likes of Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann, Mulholland is appealing to matchmaker Paul Reed to put him in for the vacant strap.
As for an opponent, Mulholland says come one, come all.
“Cage Warriors, 24th February, in Liverpool. They’re doing the amateur undercard. I’ve got this belt, let’s go and get the other amateur belt. Liam Gittins just vacated, he’s going pro, let’s go unify the Cage Warriors Academy championship belts. I’ll hold both those belts and then pro after February.
“If I own both Cage Warriors belts, I think Cage Warriors would be interested in me. Gittins [the former 125lb North West champion] turned pro, Gittins beat me, so [I] would have loved that rematch but, I mean, he’s on to bigger things now.”
Most importantly, though, Ciaran Mulholland understands that for him to flourish as a professional, his striking ability needs to match his grappling finesse.
“I thought about going pro after February, I hope to fight for another Cage Warriors Academy title in February and then go pro, it needs to improve massively,” referring to his sub-par striking performance at BCMMA 20. “I don’t think I can beat the whole world because it’s stupid to have that arrogance but I’m confident enough in my ability where I do think pro’s there for me and It’s knocking on the door but I just need to tighten things in my game.
“The ground game in the cage is definitely there, but I’m not transferring my standup and it needs to start happening. So I’d like to work on that, back to the drawing board Monday come training and hopefully get these titles.”