Gypsy Traveler fighting at UFC 138

by Matt Freeman | source:

Irish Travellers or Irish Gypsies are a traditionally nomadic people of ethnic Irish origin, who maintain a distinct set of customs and traditions. They live predominantly in the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Among the traditions they maintain is the "Straightener" a bareknuckle boxing match to decide inter family disuputes and matters of pride. For what is believed to be the first time, a Traveller, welterweight John Maguire, is entering the Octagon.

Interestingly, the Travellers used to engage in formal matches (called "All In") that allowed wrestlng, clinching, elbows, and boxing, something intensely familiar to anyone reading this.

John Maguire is one of the most decorated new breed of British fighters to be drafted into the UFC. Holding two of the UK’s most prestigious domestic titles, Maguire’s story is bound up with a rich heritage of fighting and personal sacrifice.

As a traveller, (or gypsy as the culture is better known in the US), Maguire was no stranger to the bare knuckle methods employed to solve family feuds.

“Fighting can be big in the community," Maguire explains. "It is usually more to do with family rows than for money and it’s just the way travellers settle problems. Travellers prefer the fair-play style or “straightener” than the all-in style. They don’t really like the wrestling and grappling and a lot of them are ignorant of MMA. I was brought up around boxing as it is a big deal with travellers, but I love MMA.”

“I’ve never lived anywhere else than caravans. ’ve been on the current site for about 10 years now and all my family live there. It’s a nice, quiet family site and I’ve got my own caravan; it’s a nice big one as well.”

In Cambridge Maguire found Tsunami Gym. Under the tutelage of UK fight scene veterans Robbie Olivier and Pierre Guillet,  Maguire defeated all comers using his crushing wrestling game to grind his opponents into an early defeat.

All of this has culminated into a bout with Justin Edwards in the UFC’s return to England on Saturday, and it is an opportunity that he is grabbing with both hands.

“I’ve been sleeping in the gym for the whole training camp. I’ve only been home once. There are no comforts; no TV, no computer or Playstation. I’m sleeping in a store room on the floor.”

“I’m training twice a day. I’ve taken off the last five weeks from work and I’m even adding in a strength and conditioning program,” Maguire said. “Everyone at the gym is helping me to prepare and I’m doing loads of sparring and wrestling. My brother Tommy is helping out loads; he tells me how it is if I’m being lazy or crap."

“Justin is coming off a win but I’ve fought guys just as good if not better. I just need to hold my nerves together. He likes to wrestle but I’m a wrestler with a very active ground game so I’ll be happy to trade takedowns with him. More than anything though, I want the win and that’s the top to bottom of it. He’s a mini-Randy Couture and he comes out fast in the first round.

“I’m ready to ride the storm and wait for the openings. Whatever comes, any mistake, I’ll capitalize on it ... but to win with my trademark Kimura would be good.”

Read entire article...

MMA gear now available at the UG Store


McDavid Knee Sleeve w/ Elastic

McDavid Knee Sleeve w/ Elastic

$12.99 $10.99

JAKKS Pacific Exclusive Series 0 (Zero) Rashad Evans Action Figure

JAKKS Pacific Exclusive Series 0 (Zero) Rashad Evans Action Figure

$11.99 $5.99


tags: UFC 138   John Maguire (detail)  

Get the MMA Underground app. for iPhone and Andriod devices.
iPhone Application Andriod MMA Underground Application

Recent Comments »

Bobby Lupo site profile image  

11/6/11 9:24 AM by Bobby Lupo

 No. IMO, it sounds like something made up via exaggeration. I don't doubt that things could have degenerated into a riot or a foul fest or a situation where the rules and norms of society went out the window, but I don't think it was set up that way.

NorthFromHere site profile image  

11/6/11 7:40 AM by NorthFromHere

This pikey can grapple for sure

Radio Raheem site profile image  

11/6/11 6:36 AM by Radio Raheem

His mum's caravan, IMO

ferox13 site profile image  

11/6/11 5:54 AM by ferox13


mugatu site profile image  

11/5/11 11:28 PM by mugatu

 This guy is legit, awesome debut

ajsr site profile image  

11/5/11 8:21 PM by ajsr are fucking great

ferox13 site profile image  

11/5/11 8:17 PM by ferox13

KInda funny that the only reference Americans have to travellers is the english film, Snatch...

Teenage mutant lesnar turtle site profile image  

11/5/11 7:58 PM by Teenage mutant lesnar turtle


Justinmacd site profile image  

11/5/11 7:58 PM by Justinmacd

Snatch is such an awesome movie.

aaronlynton site profile image  

11/5/11 7:57 PM by aaronlynton

he ate that right hand good. nice recovery and grappling skills. whats a caravan?!?! is it a trailer?