FIGHTS under the lights of Dublin’s glittering 3Arena look very different than spending cold nights in the car.
Peter Queally has gone from tipping over in front of an MMA gym to headlining Bellator Dublin.
The 33-year-old still pinches himself when he’s told he’s starring in the Bellator 285 main fight against former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.
He said: “If you had told me 12 years ago, as I was sleeping in my car, that I was going to headline the 3Arena and fight Henderson,
“And that I would probably be more popular than him that night if I had laughed at you.
“It’s a great achievement and I’m proud of myself.”
Born in Waterford, Queally dabbled in most sports as a child but first got a taste for fighting as a teenager after training with his boxing pal.
He eventually joined a Muay Thai gym before taking up MMA classes at the same location.
Queally added: “Next thing I know I’m taking a fight, I lost it because I was crap and didn’t know what I was doing.
“I hadn’t practiced very long and lost in 30 seconds, but I dusted myself off and took another fight and lost that one too.
“I didn’t care, I just thought I was badass and could do it, but I lost that by decision so that was a step up.
“Then I smashed four guys in a row, got the hang of it, won by KO a couple of times in a row.
“It was all amateur and then I did a pro fight just for fun because I thought I’ll never make a career out of it.
“I kept winning fights and it slowly turned into a career.”
CONOR MCGREGORS INFLUENCE
The path has not been easy for The Showstopper, who has been a trailblazer for MMA in Ireland since stepping into the cage.
It was sparring sessions with Conor McGregor at Dublin’s SBG gym that got him hooked on the sport – and there was no turning back.
The lightweight star added: “I used to fight with Connor at SBG and I saw him fight and I was like oh my god he’s so good I need to train with him.
“He only had three fights when he wasn’t that well known. So I packed my things and moved to Dublin.
“My mate was interested in my career and MMA and he had a shabby little flat in Dublin so he let me live with him.
“I slept with him in his bed, tops and tails, but when his girlfriend stayed with me, I got thrown in the car!
“I spent a few cold nights outside of the gym in my little car with the duvet around me.
“I have no regrets, if that’s what you want, sometimes you have to go so far to really get what you want, nothing comes easy.”
HOSPITAL IN KAZAKHSTAN
Queally was also forced to practice his profession around the world, far from the bright lights of New York and Las Vegas, where his pal McGregor found fame.
He has fought in Cape Town, Moscow and Kazakhstan – where he was even hospitalized before even stepping into the cage to fight Kuat Khamitov.
Queally added: “Kazakhstan was pretty crazy. We went a week early and I got really sick with the flu. I was bedridden.
“The day before the fight I was so sick. There was no way I would gain weight, no chance.
“At that point I couldn’t even fight. I’m just dying here, but the promoters said ‘no, you fight’.
“They basically canceled the weigh-in, agreed with me and my opponent that there would be no weigh-in.
“On the morning of the fight I am in the hospital as I am being given antibiotics intravenously.
“The organizers just didn’t have it. It was in a big arena, the guy I fought Kua t is now a close friend of mine and very popular in Kazakhstan.
“We had a 15,000 arena that was completely sold out to see me and him. I was told to swallow it and it was a five round main event, it was awful.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6283483/bellator-peter-queally-benson-henderson/ Bellator star Peter Queally’s meteoric rise from car sleep to ex-UFC Benson Henderson