Danni McCormack right after her fight last night in Denver.

Historic victory for Mullingar MMA fighter

Damien Maher

Danni McCormack of Relentless Martial Arts Mullingar won a significant world title in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) last night in Denver, Colorado and is the first Irish woman to achieve such a victory.

She defeated Brazil opponent, Valesca Machado who was the defending champion after five tough, five-minute rounds.

Danni is now the Invicta Strawweight Champion and this opens up massive possibilities for her, including a potential opportunity to fight in UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).

McCormack, who turned 33 on Wednesday, gave herself the best birthday present by overcoming early adversity to win a unanimous decision with scores of 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47 to take the strawweight title.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner from Denver on Thursday morning, Danni’s husband and coach, Alan, said it’s a fantastic achievement. Recovering from a broken nose sustained in the first round, Danni was in hospital, accompanied by Alan, who took some time out to speak about the enormity of the victory and what Danni had to do in order to win the title.

“This is hugely significant and she is the first Irish female to win this title. It’s the biggest win in MMA for an Irish female fighter and the biggest, overall, since Conor McGregor. She is recovering in hospital now, as she suffered a broken nose, but she’s feeling fine and is obviously thrilled with the victory,” said the Fore native.

“She prepared really well for this fight and because it was held in high altitude here in Denver, it’s much harder to compete. Danni slept in a high-altitude tent in Mullingar for a few weeks to prepare for this. It’s a special tent, set up in your bed, which allows the body to adjust to high altitude.”

Danni also works with MMA expert John Kavanagh, who coaches Conor McGregor, in his Dublin-based Straight Blast Gym (SBG). She now plans to follow in McGregor’s footsteps.

“This title was obviously the big target, but now Danni will aim to get into UFC because it’s the best promotion for MMA,” Alan explained.

Roscommon native Danni had to come through a tough fight to win against the champion from Brazil, but Alan stressed that a lot of the battle was grappling on the ground as opposed to punches, whereas in boxing, fighters get constant blows to the head.


The first round saw Machado dominate and she won (12-4) having dropped McCormack twice with sharp punches, busting her nose open in the process. It appeared a finish was possible after the second knockdown, but McCormack gathered herself and put together some offense of her own before the conclusion of the round.

In the second, McCormack continued to prove she would not be an easy out, as she gave the champ some trouble on the feet and in the clinch against the cage. It was a much better round for McCormack, who tied the fight up on all three scorecards.

The fight began to even out in the third round, where both fighters had their moments over the course of five minutes before the championship rounds. Two judges believed McCormack turned in the better frame.

Fatigue on the side of Machado began to really show in the first championship round. McCormack was able to implement solid grappling and end the round on top raining down heavy punches.

With just five minutes to go, McCormack kept the pressure high to put a stamp on the fight in the clinch, leaving no questions when the scorecards were read.

In just two fights with the promotion, McCormack claimed Invicta gold. Her first fight under the banner was in November at Invicta FC 50, a unanimous decision win over Maira Mazar. Machado claimed the vacant strawweight title by defeating Karolina Wojcik by unanimous decision at the same event, but was unable to record her first defence.