In October 2015, Aisling Daly walked into an arena full of her country people with the Cranberries'”Zombie” blasting through the speakers. The crowd sang in unison as their hometown fighter walked to the cage. After fifteen hard fought minutes, Daly got her hand raised to an unanimous roar of the Irish fans. It was a crowning a achievement for a women who helped MMA become established in Ireland. No one knew, including herself, that this would be the last time we saw her fight.
“I could not have picked a better night to end my fighting career than the night of UFC Dublin,” Daly posted on Facebook. “From the spine tingling walk out, the war of a fight, to the emotional victory, the culmination of a career’s work. To be an Irish woman competing in the premier league of mixed martial arts her in home town. The experience will likely not be rivaled in my life time. The perfect farewell even if I didn’t know it at the time. MMA competition was always going to be just a part of my life, and what a thrilling chapter it was.”
Daly announced Monday that she had decided to call it a career. After going to her annual check-up a few months ago, her doctor recommended they get her MRI out of the way while she was there. The scan showed a small hemorrhage in her brain, and after several tests and the urging of her doctor, she hung up the gloves.
Before Conor McGregor and Katie Taylor, Daly was the first MMA and female fighting star in Ireland to receive worldwide recognition. Training at Straight Blast Gym, she soon became proficient in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and striking under coach John Kavanagh.
Starting her professional career in 2007, she went 9-0 before losing an unanimous decision to Lisa Ellis in the opening round of Bellator strawweight tournament. She won her first international title with an upset over current UFC fighter Jessica Eye in 2011.
She would be a staple of Cage Warriors through a lot of her career and saw a professional rivalry and a personal friendship with British fighter Rosi Sexton.
Daly would get into the UFC via her stint on “The Ultimate Fighter 20” in 2014. This lead her to the that moment in Dublin, Ireland.
One thing that Daly kept for so many years was her bouts of depression, which she chronicled on her one and only blog entry as she prepared to try out for TUF 20.
Her mentorship and friendship with many at SBG Ireland has helped the gym receive global recognition, including McGregor, IMMAF champion Sinead Kavanagh, and UFC fighter Patrick “Paddy” Holohan, who retired in April of last year.
She thanked her friends, family, teammates, and fans in her facebook post, and insisted she won’t be completely out of MMA. She will do the occasional BJJ tournaments and will continue to coach and mentor at SBG Ireland.
“Now starts the next chapter of my life. I’m very fortunate to have grown up within such an outstanding organisation as SBG. I am equipped with the skills to be an exceptional coach and member of the martial arts community and I look forward to seeing what challenges lie ahead for me.”
“New Beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”― Lao Tzu