Larne man scoops top MMA accolade

A former Irish national Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) champion from Larne has received prestigious recognition for his commentating skills after commencing a career behind the microphone when he was sidelined from the sport due to injury.

By Russell Keers
Friday, 12th February 2021, 1:04 pm

Phil Campbell was recently announced as FightBook MMA’s Choice for number 1 MMA commentator alongside Kirik Jeness.

The former St MacNissi’s College Garron Tower pupil and Ulster University Jordanstown student got involved in MMA over 10 years ago as a practitioner, going on to become an active competition fighter, winning an Irish national title.

Speaking to the Larne Times, Phil explained: “I was sidelined with a knee injury and had the opportunity to fill in as a guest commentator for Clan Wars MMA which is widely considered to be the biggest MMA show in Ireland.

Phil Campbell.

“From there I was invited to Abu Dhabi in September 2018 by Bahrain based MMA promotion BRAVE Combat Federation to commentate on one of there shows. That was BRAVE 16 and I’ve called everyone of their shows since and will be traveling to Bahrain at the beginning of March for a month consisting of four shows beginning with BRAVE 47.

“I’ve commentated on national title fights on the likes of Clan Wars and Cage Legacy right up to World Title fights on BRAVE Combat Federation.

“I’ve dabbled in cage announcing for Clan Wars and filled in as cage announcer for BRAVE Combat Federation for their last show in Sochi Russia in January.

“Receiving the award came completely out of the blue. I absolutely love MMA and to be able to pursue commentary as a career is a dream come true.”

The talented commentator has offered advice to young people who may be considering a career in sports broadcasting.

Phil said: “If any young person is considering a career in sports broadcasting/commentary I would say a genuine passion for your chosen sport is essential and something that can’t be faked.

“There’s a misconception that commentators just turn up and talk, but there’s hours upon hours of research involved in any show that no ones sees. And more than anything have fun doing it because you’ve the best seat in the house!

“MMA has only been around realistically since 1993 with the creation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Given the relatively small amount of time it’s been around I think it’s fair to call it the fastest growing sport in the world.

“Ireland has a thriving MMA community with some of the best amateurs and professionals in the world coming from the island. Obviously everyone is aware of Conor McGregor, but there’s also fighters like Belfast’s Leah Mcourt, Ballymena’s Rhys McKee, Bangor’s Andy Young and Bushmills fighter Norman Parke all making their mark on the world stage.

“The Covid-19 pandemic essentially put an end to regional national and international MMA. However, with careful planning and working collaboratively with sporting commissions and local governments, MMA promotions have been able to put on shows again behind closed doors with no audiences adhering to strict Covid regulations like testing of athletes and all those involved in the production of the show.”

The Newtownabbey Times reported in 2019 that over 100 young people from Belfast had used Mixed Martial Arts to tackle sectarianism.

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