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Danni Neilan: “She Wasn’t At My Level”

It was another fantastic night in Dublin, with Bellator returning to Ireland for the first time since February 2020. The atmosphere was outstanding from the Irish faithful, and Danni Neilan, in particular, was overjoyed by the experience in her victory over Audrey Kerouche

“I Wish She’d of Been a Harder Opponent”

For almost three rounds, Neilan battered Kerouche, ending the fight via heavy ground & pound in the final moments of the last round. Watching her performance back, Neilan was highly impressed with her outing.

“Yeah, so I’ve watched the performance back a load of times. My thoughts overall, I wish she’d been a harder opponent. I felt I outclassed her. I always like a good fight, a good slug. Honestly, she wasn’t at my level at all. I wish it had been a more difficult fight. Still happy with my performance, really happy I got the finish in the end, especially in front of that Dublin crowd, it was just wild, it was great to get the finish and please the crowd,” Neilan told OvertimeHeroicsMMA.

Neilan claimed the crowd “spurred” her on to get the finish over Kerouche, and if you haven’t seen how phenomenal it was, check out Peter Queally’s walkout for the main event. 

“The atmosphere was electric, coming out, even when I was warming up you could hear it downstairs, the roof was vibrating and the floor underneath us. When I was walking out, you could feel the energy. Usually, I wouldn’t say I like looking up in the crowd and taking it in as it makes me nervous, but I felt confident for this fight, and when I was walking out, I couldn’t help myself but take it in and put my hands up to the crowd.

When I won, I just felt so, so amazing with everyone screaming. I jumped out on the side of the cage and waved out at everyone. There is no feeling like it. There’s no crowd like the Irish crowd and a big show in Dublin.”

Overall, it was easy work for Neilan, as she secured the fifth win of her professional career and stayed undefeated. She wasn’t bothered how she’d end the fight, as she knew she was always going to win.

“My plan is just always to be dominant and aggressive, put a pace on and bring the fight to the person and whatever way there going to crumble, there going to crumble. I knew the fight was going to be stopped at one point. It was just how the way she wanted to lose.”

Undefeated & Ready for More

Neilan won her first three professional fights with Bellator. To keep active while the pandemic was going on, she fought over in Germany and earned another hard-fought victory over Katharina Dalisda.

“My fight in July definitely helped me for this event, so first of all, I got to do a weight cut for this fight. During the pandemic, your walk around a bit heavier. I did something like a twelve-week camp for that fight, so I got in excellent shape. Then I took like three weeks downtime while still training but not thinking about the next fight, even though I knew I was matched for Dublin.

After those three weeks after the fight in July, I got straight back into camp. It was easy to get the weight cut done. I was already really fit, so it was just a matter of improving my skill-set in that matter of time because the Germany fight was where I got in good shape and got my weight down, so it definitely helped, the opponent was a perfect opponent to, she brought it to me, so that levelled up my skills as well.”

Now she’s (5-0). It’s all seeming to be a bit surreal for Neilan as she looks towards her next steps in MMA.

“It’s so strange that I’m 5-0 now. It doesn’t feel real. It feels like I only made my pro debut a month ago, which was actually in September 2019. Maybe it’s because of the pandemic. The last two years have flown by. From my first fight, I said I’m going to go like 6-0, and I’m going to go at least six fights undefeated, and now I’m 5-0. It is a bit surreal that it actually happened.

I just fought girls and kept winning; I’m very proud of myself. I feel very confident, not unstoppable. Everyone is stoppable but very confident. Not too overconfident that I’d underestimate anyone, or that I wouldn’t think that someone could come along and put me in my place, that’s what keeps me hungry, keeps me winning, I always imagine my opponents are a lot better than they actually are and that’s why I keep winning I think, I go in expecting the absolute worst and then it’s a more uncomplicated night in the office than it is in the gym or sparring in the gym anyway.”

What’s Next for Neilan?

Bellator doesn’t hold a strawweight division currently, but Neilan has fought all four fights in the promotion at 115lbs. She’s hoping for a division soon, but she can’t thank Bellator enough for the opportunity she’s been given.

“They’ve very kindly given me pro four fights in a massive organization like themselves, in front of a gigantic Irish crowd in three of them fights as well, so they’ve given me a huge opportunity to make this giant leap at the start of my career by fighting on big shows and going undefeated against adamant opponents and paying me well, so Bellator has given me this huge step up in my career so far.

I have two fights left on my contract, so after that, we’ll be having a conversation about whether or not there’ll be a strawweight belt or a division created, if not. You know I want to be a world champion, I may need to move on to a promotion that does have a strawweight belt in it, but I can’t thank Bellator enough for this opportunity they’ve given me. They’re amazing.”

Neilan hopes for Bellator to go back to their competing schedule in Dublin in February and September, with a hopeful return to the cage in 3 months.

Before that, she has a big occasion on the cards, and from all of us at OvertimeHeroicsMMA, we would like to wish Neilan the best on her big day.

“The next big thing for us is I’m getting married on 22nd December, so I’m excited about that. That’s going to be our big celebration, New York to get married.”

Follow me on Twitter @JakeBroderick98 for more combat sports news and discussions. Also, make sure to follow @OT_Heroics for all of your sporting needs. Don’t forget OTHeroicsMMA for all things MMA.

Featured image credits to Embed from Getty Images

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