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Almighty FC 22: Paul Lally Interview

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We are approaching Almighty Fighting Championships first event of 2022 when The Rainton Arena in Houghton Le Springs hosts eighteen exciting matchups on January 22nd.

Almighty FC 22 will be the first of twelve shows for Ray Thompson and his team after a successful 2021. The England based promotion has gone from strength to strength since seeing out the pandemic and returning to action.

The Almighty FC flyweight championship is up for grabs in the main event, with Shajidul Haque and Igor Wojtas going toe to toe for gold. The fight card also consists of several professional contests, including the highly anticipated debut of Liam McCracken. Before that, fans in attendance are treated to some well-matched amateur bouts.

I caught up with Higher Level MMA’s young gun, Paul Lally, who makes his amateur debut at Almighty FC 22 against Joel Storey. We dived into how he feels before beginning his journey in the sport.

Interview With Paul Lally

Two weeks out from your amateur debut on Almighty FC 22. How are the emotions in the lead up to your first competitive fight?

Paul Lally – “I would be lying if I said I was not nervous. The nerves I experience are in place simply to hold myself accountable for the performance I will put on when the time comes. I am grateful to now be presented with the chance to showcase my skills which will be on full display on January 22nd.

In terms of excitement, there’s not much there. My focus in the build-up to this has been solely on winning. In fact, I haven’t actually picked any walkout music either. Any decision which has not been related to me getting my hand raised has been disregarded. 

The excitement will come after the victory, going home and seeing everyone who supports me beyond belief.”

For those who perhaps don’t know you yet. How long have you been actively training at Higher Level MMA before the decision to take a fight, and was that always the intention when you began the journey?

Paul Lally – “My time at Higher Level MMA has amounted to over five years now, beginning when I was fourteen. I walked into the gym as a small and frail kid with no confidence looking for a new venture away from football which I had quit not long before. Over time, I picked up what James was teaching and grew at the same time, leading me to the position I am in now. The intention to fight was never considered to be honest. Still, given how far I’ve come in this period, I feel prepared to comfortably enter the cage as a confident and skilled martial artist.”

What has been the main focus within your preparation ahead of Jan.22? Is there a department you’ve worked on more than anything else, or has it been a case of making sure all the tools are sharp and ready for fight night?

Paul Lally – “The skills are there and have been for a while now. For me, the only real difference between this and a spar is the mindset. I’ve spoken with countless fighters from the gym who have tremendously assisted my development in this aspect. With the correct mindset, there is no doubt my hand gets raised.”

Your first MMA fight is something you’re always going to remember when you look back down the line. Leading into this fight, I imagine many different scenarios are running through your mind. Personally, what expectations do you have ahead of Jan.22? I can imagine James just wants you to go out there and have fun.

Paul Lally – “I’ve reverse visualised this for the last few weeks now. It’s a sport that can’t be predicted. Therefore my preparation in this camp has covered everything James has envisaged for my debut.

In terms of expectations, I see myself winning regardless. Whether spectacular finish or a war, there’s no way I don’t come away with a win.

I would imagine James being in a similar mindset. He would not send me out to this situation if he didn’t think I was prepared to win in all aspects. It probably will be a fun experience; however, if the opportunity to finish my opponent presents itself, I won’t have to think twice about it.”

How rewarding is it training under one of the best minds, not only in Scotland but the UK in James Doolan, and being surrounded with the top talent that Higher Level MMA is producing?

Paul Lally – “You can’t really put a price on what James has done for me. If anyone in any industry works as hard as James does with MMA, they would be at the top of their respected field. I think his work ethic rubs off on everyone in the gym, which is why there are so many talented fighters.

Training under James has been nothing short of fascinating; the guy is a genius. The variety of talent he produces is hard to process. And for me, being in that environment constantly has pushed me to improve continuously. The team at a higher level is a blessing. It’s like a family – all because of James.”

Your opponent on the night is Joel Storey. With Storey also making his debut, is it just a case of focussing on your own game instead of getting caught up trying to anticipate what he will bring to the Octagon at Almighty FC 22?

Paul Lally – “Whatever he brings to the table will be adjusted for and dealt with. Wherever the fight ends, I’m confident I am better in every aspect of the game. I hope he has had a good camp and a safe cut, but I can’t see him winning any minute of that fight.”

You come away with the victory in two weeks in your ideal world. How active can we expect to see you in 2022? How many fights would you like to get before the year ends?

Paul Lally – “Going 1-0 in January is an excellent start to the year. However, I can’t blueprint my entire plan for the year this early. Under James’s watchful eye, each move of my career will be planned and calculated. I will be training all year round, so I’ll be ready to go when the correct opportunities present themselves.”


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Featured image credits to Almighty Fighting Championship

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