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Tom Egan Article (

  • 09-01-2009 6:40pm
    Registered Users Posts: 4,871 ✭✭✭

    For most aspiring mixed martial artists, the Ultimate Fighting Championship acts as the Promised Land, the ideal, the gates to MMA heaven. It’s their ticket to the great gig in the sky – a chance to leave the small hall shows, the meagre paychecks and the fruitless obscurity. Enter the UFC and you’ve made it. You’re a star.

    Well, not if your name’s Tom Egan, a budding 20-year-old Irishman with the MMA world well and truly at his feet. Let’s face it, when you’re 20 years of age you see the world a little differently. You can be fighter, rock star, movie star, run for president and discover a cure for cancer all in one summer. Welterweight Egan is making plans.

    “Joining the UFC has always been one of my aims,” admits Egan, the emphasis very much on ‘one’. “I feel at home going into the UFC because it’s something that I’ve always planned for. I’ve always wanted to be here. Of course my ultimate goal is the world title. To be in the UFC is one thing, but the ultimate thing for me is to win a world title. I’m not just going there to make up numbers.

    “Some guys fight their whole career to just become a UFC fighter. That’s where it ends for a lot of fighters. I’m not like that. I thrive on the high level of competition and as a modern day athlete I’m always looking to get better. This is just the start of the mountain. I’m not looking at it as a, ‘wow, I’ve made it!’ kind of situation. I’ve just been given a chance to win a world title. Now’s the time to get going.”

    Currently 4-0 in his fledgling MMA career, Egan is now ready to get going in the UFC. Don’t mistake Egan’s lofty ambition and self-assurance as a sign the Dublin man is underestimating his achievement in reaching the UFC. He knows this is big.

    “I’m feeling great right now and am really looking forward to experiencing the whole atmosphere of a UFC event,” beams ‘The Tank’. “I can’t wait to take the next step forward in my professional career. I feel at home with the UFC. All the hype and the atmosphere that goes along with the UFC is what I live for. It’s why I do what I do.

    “There’s going to be more people watching, bigger venues, tougher opponents and more money. Everything will go up a notch now and I’m ready for it.”

    A relative newcomer in mixed martial arts, let alone the UFC, Egan only made his professional bow in March of last year. Less than 12 months on, Egan will be gearing up to face the crème de la crème of mixed martial arts in 2009.

    “Oh, it’s a big, big step up,” concedes Tom. “There’s going to be tougher opponents and opponents with a much bigger will to win. In every UFC fight there’s a reason to fight and a reason to put on your best performance. I want to be able to make a living at this as well, so I’m prepared to fight all out to get where I want to get. Everyone else has that mindset, too, and that’s part of what makes the UFC so competitive and also so entertaining.”

    Though admitting he was caught off guard by the UFC’s initial advances, Egan is happy to take the chance. In an ideal world the call would have come perhaps another 12 months on. This, however, is no ideal world and Egan is grabbing his opportunity with both hands.

    “We were always hoping for the UFC to come to Ireland, but probably didn’t expect it to arrive this early,” he admits. “I haven’t been half as busy as I’d have liked, in terms of fights - I’d have probably liked to be around 10-0 or 15-0 before entering the UFC. Despite all that, I’m grabbing the opportunity with everything I’ve got and am being given the chance when I’m still very young and willing to learn.”

    The first rung on Egan’s ladder arrives on January 17 in Ireland when he takes on England’s John Hathaway at UFC 93. Like Egan, Hathaway is a newcomer to the UFC. He’s done the small hall stuff in Britain. He’s fought on the Cage Rage circuit. He’s heard the roar of a few hundred fans. Egan and Hathaway have more than one common bond.

    “I admire John,” says Egan. “He’s a great athlete and a very good fighter from what I’ve seen of him. He looks very well-rounded. He’s got good stand-up, he’s very good in the clinch and he’s pretty dominant on top when he gets there.

    “John’s a cool guy and I’m really looking forward to fighting him. I haven’t talked to him or anything but he seems like a really decent person and a great first opponent for me. He seems to be someone that I can truly test myself against.”

    When one weighs up exactly what is at stake on January 17, Hathaway may end up being the ultimate test, and vice versa. Both unbeaten, both desperate to prove themselves, Egan versus Hathaway could be a darkhorse for Fight of the Night at UFC 93.

    “It’s good to go in there against a fellow newcomer and that’s also what’s going to make this such a good fight,” explains Tom. “We’re both going in there with a lot to prove. This is almost like our trial run. We both want to show the UFC what we can do.”

    Before going any further, it’s worth discovering exactly what Thomas ‘The Tank’ Egan can do. After all, in only four mixed martial arts contests to date, Egan has displayed more raw promise than anything else.

    “I regard myself as a true mixed martial artist,” says Egan, a standout of the Pro Team Ireland gym. “I’m a modern day athlete in a modern day sport. It’s an always evolving sport and it’s important that you move with the times and learn to get good at every single aspect. I don’t want to be just good at one thing.

    “You have to be at least decent in every department just to compete in the UFC. Now I’m in the UFC it’s all about increasing the quality in every area of my game. I need to be a great boxer, a great wrestler, a great Muay Thai fighter and a great jiu-jitsu guy. You never know when you’ll need each of those strengths.”

    On January 17 Egan may require a dose of each and every one of those strengths. Such is the beauty and variety of mixed martial arts, Egan won’t find out which tools are required for the job until he eyes up Hathaway in the opening round. However, one guarantee at UFC 93 is that the Dublin crowd will be very much on Egan’s side.

    “It’s brilliant to be fighting at home,” adds Egan. “To be honest, I just see it as a great opportunity not to have to do any travelling. It’s going to be really cool fighting in Ireland, but I’m also really excited about possibly fighting overseas with the UFC. I’d love to be in Las Vegas fighting on the mega cards. That’s what it’s all about for me. I can’t wait for it.”

    Though only 20, Egan isn’t the type to shy away from the limelight or keep his thoughts to himself. Full of self-confidence and itching to show the world what he can do, Egan is meeting his fears head on. He’s looking to prove himself on the Ultimate stage.

    “I’ve always had an interest in combat sports,” recalls Egan on what got him started. “I wanted to be the best at the toughest sport. That was always my plan.

    “I kept hearing about how tough mixed martial arts was and I just liked the idea of getting good at it. I only really started watching the UFC when I was 17 or 18. I think the first event that I watched on television was when Tito Ortiz fought Vitor Belfort.”

    A couple of years on and Egan is living his dream for real. The combination of his fighting ability and his surprising maturity could see Egan become a national MMA hero back in his native Ireland. He’ll have seen the job Michael Bisping has done for England and possibly look to replicate that for the Emerald Isle. That’s certainly one of Egan’s many aims.

    “It would be a great honour to become the face of UFC for Ireland,” says Egan. “I’d love to help promote the UFC in Ireland. When I win a world title for Ireland I could then start to think I’ve made it. Until then, there’s plenty of work to do. In fact, even when I do win a world title I won’t be able to relax – I’ll have to start defending the title and staying at the top. I’m just thinking forwards, forwards, forwards right now. I’m only 20 years of age and have my whole life ahead of me.”

    First stop, Hathaway on January 17. Next stop, world peace.