Cage Contender XIV in Dublin's National Basketball Arena this Saturday will see the featherweight champ, Owen "Rowdy" Roddy get the "big fight" he has been waiting for to project him into the limelight of international MMA.
Long considered one of Europe's pound-for-pound best, standing in the way of Roddy is Shannon Gugerty, UFC veteran and Dean Lister black belt, but the Ballymun brawler is focused on the task at hand and believes he has an arsenal that will overwhelm the American.
"I've been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time," said Roddy, "Gugerty's scalp would be a massive one to claim, and I'm delighted that John Ferguson has put this fight together."
Master of leg locks Dean Lister has already made a debut for the Irish promotion, seeing off the legendary Rodney Moore on his way to a solid win.
With one of his students now set for a Cage Contender debut, Gugerty's skill set is something that the Irishman believes he can match everywhere, having trained for the specific threats he poses.
"Between myself and Paddy Holohan, who's also fighting a well-versed submission and leg lock expert, I'm ready for wherever the fight goes, but I don't think he'll be able to catch me.
"I'm going to put a pace on him that he won't be able to live with; he's decent in every aspect of the game, but he's not outstanding.
"I think I'm going to finish him with strikes," said the Ballymun native.
"Rowdy" also boasts the greatest supporters on the Irish scene and during his last title defense, the crowd were deafening as they cheered him on to victory over the dangerous Ben Davis.
Despite his great love for his fans, Roddy is adamant that the noise and the expectation will not get to him and it will be business as usual.
"I love to hear the crowd cheering my name; it gives the event an amazing backdrop and I get a great buzz hearing my name chanted in the arena.
"But to be honest, I can't hear anything on my way to the cage, I'm completely focused, I can't hear or see anything outside of the enclosure once the bell rings.
"It's not 'til after I get my hand lifted that I can really enjoy it and get butterflies in my stomach, and I'll make sure I'll get that same feeling come Saturday," said the featherweight champion.
However, Shannon Gugerty has ambitions of his own, fighting his third bout at featherweight, the San Diego native wants to use this fight to showcase his own skills and look for a spot back in the UFC.
"I know that I'm coming here to fight a well respected opponent, but I won't be a stepping stone for anyone," said the young veteran.
"At this new weight I feel better than ever, back in my days at 155, I wouldn't have to cut any weight, so I feel I have new advantage as far as my size is concerned.
"Roddy has got to know that as much he wants to elevate himself to the mainstream, I'm looking to get back into the UFC, and I've never been more mentally and physically prepared in my career," said Gugerty.
The new featherweight is a frequent visitor to the Emerald Isle due to his Irish lineage on his father's side, and claims he would welcome an offer to defend the title if it changes hands on Saturday night.
"I really love it over here, when I win the fight on Saturday, I'd definitely like to come back and defend the title, the people are great over here and I've met a lot of new friends on my visits.
"But the bottom line is, I know I'm going to win, I mean that with no malice, but I will take the victory and I will be classy, humble and respectful to Owen in doing so," said the jiu jitsu black belt.
Playing the adversary of the hometown hero is something that the American is also quite familiar with, having done so on two occasions during his UFC career, and he believes he will gain the respect of the Irish audience with his performance at Cage Contender XIV.
"Fighting Spencer Fisher in Chicago and Terry Etim in Manchester definitely gave me the experience of fighting someone in their back yard; it's something that I'm quite comfortable with and I'm glad I have that knowledge.
"I hope to go out there and impress the crowd, and I really think the match up between me and Owen will be the fight of the night," said Gugerty.
Tickets for Cage Contender XIV are available in Xtra Vision stores nationwide and on www.cagecontender.com
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