Knockout Talent
Knockout Talent

Knockout Talent: Brace Yourself for 7 Rounds with NI's Hardest-Hitting Combat Athletes

You’re about to meet Skeletor, The Curse and The Croc – and you’ll wish hadn’t!

Are you ready for this?

We hope you've limbered up, because you're about to go toe-to-toe with a line-up of Northern Ireland's finest fighters.

You're stepping into the ring (or cage) for seven punishing rounds with some of the toughest, most skilful combatants this place has to offer.

Stop crying and put on these gloves.

It’s time to meet your opponents, each a legend in their own right, and each with a fighting spirit that's pure Northern Ireland.

Here we go.

Obey the referee’s instructions, protect yourself at all times, best of luck.

Ding ding, round one...


Leah 'The Curse' McCourt
Leah 'The Curse' McCourt

Round 1: Leah 'The Curse' McCourt

First up, you're shoved into the Octagon to face Leah 'The Curse' McCourt. Now, she's not just any fighter, she's a force of nature from Saintfield, dominating the Bellator MMA scene. Ranked #1 in the women's featherweight and #6 pound-for-pound, Leah's also won gold at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world championships, so she’s just as likely to choke you as chin you.

Be prepared for a tactical takedown that's as strategic as it is powerful. And don't let your guard down for a second, or The Curse will be on you.


Round 2: Paul 'Big News' Hughes

You okay? How many fingers am I holding up? You just about survived that round, but now you're going toe-to-toe with Paul 'Big News' Hughes. This MMA champion's tale is one of resilience and overcoming career-threatening injuries to claim the featherweight world title in Cage Warriors.

With a 10-1-0 record, the Lavey native is widely-expected to take the UFC by storm next. In his last Cage Warriors showdown, he detonated a left hook on the chin of Jan Quaeyhaegens to seal a stunning first-round win. And you're next in his sights. Rather you than us.


Round 3: Lewis 'The Croc' Crocker

Okay, breathe. You’ll need your wits about you here. You've got a tough round of boxing coming up with Lewis Crocker. This guy holds an unbeaten record of 18-0 and the WBA Continental European Title. They call him The Croc and his punches have some serious bite. So it’s sort of ironic that you’re about to lose some teeth.

This Belfast fighter has actually got the record for the quickest knockout in Irish amateur boxing. So, you'll need to be quick on your feet and quicker with your reflexes. The Croc will hunt you down as soon as that bell goes.


Padraig 'The Hammer' McCrory
Padraig 'The Hammer' McCrory

Round 4: Padraig 'The Hammer' McCrory

You've taken some damage, and you’re not looking too pretty, but you’re hanging in there. It's a good job you're resilient, because you're stepping into the ring with Padraig 'The Hammer' McCrory now, and you'll need to withstand some ferocious digs.

This Belfast boxer is a powerhouse, undefeated in 18 professional fights and known for his thunderous punching power. Each shot is like a sledgehammer and he’s eyeing you up for demolition.

Michaela Walsh - The Olympian
Michaela Walsh - The Olympian

Round 5: Michaela Walsh - The Olympian

Your fifth round is with none other than Michaela Walsh from Belfast. An Olympian, a Commonwealth Games silver medallist, and a star in the amateur featherweight division. Fighting’s in her blood, too. She and her brother, Aidan, actually became the first brother and sister to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games in boxing.

Michaela's got the experience and the skill to make this round an ordeal for you. We heard her say she’ll use you as a punchbag to sharpen up ahead of her Olympics appearance. So keep those hands up and maybe, just maybe, you'll last your 5th round with one of Northern Ireland's finest.


Round 6: Caolan 'The Don' Loughran

How you feeling? Battered? Well, there’s bad news. In this round, you're up against Caolan 'The Don' Loughran. His story's like something out of a Hollywood movie – from Gaelic football to dominating MMA, all while overcoming knee injuries that would've finished lesser fighters. This guy doesn’t just let up.

With an impressive 8-1-0 record, Caolan's not just a fighter, he's the embodiment of Northern Irish grit. Brace yourself for a battle that's as much about heart as it is about skill.


Rhys 'Skeletor' McKee
Rhys 'Skeletor' McKee

Round 7: Rhys 'Skeletor' McKee

We actually can’t believe you've made it this far. You’re tougher than you look. But there's one more battle to get through. Prepare yourself for Rhys 'Skeletor' McKee.

This Ballymena man's journey is the stuff of legends, he’s resilience in human form. After a rocky time in the UFC, Skeletor came back from the dead to claim the Cage Warriors welterweight title and prove his mettle.

And it's all over!

The ref mercifully calls an end to this bout for your own safety. Yeah, you put up a brave fight, you’ve obviously got a bit of that NI spirit about you, but your race is run.

Take a seat and ice that face.

Whose fight will you be looking out for next? And which other up-and-coming NI fighters have you got your eye on? Let us know.


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