Taking a bash at cage fighting

Aisling ‘Ais the Bash’ Daly is 115lbs of highly disciplined power, strength and fighting ability. And she is determined to demonstrate her abilities on other world class talent at the Ultimate Fighting Championship

"I beat people up until they want to quit and give me a submission," says Aisling Daly, who likes to remind people that in 2011 it was she who became the first Irish world champion cage fighter – male or female. While he got more publicity, Irish world champion Conor McGregor is the second to have done so, says the plucky 26-year-old, who spends a lot of time giving and taking digs. "If I didn't spar with the guys I'd be shadow boxing."

Daly’s sport may look like a half-naked fight to the death free-for-all in a prisonyard cage, but Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is highly disciplined. There’s no escape from the cage once the twisting and pummelling has started and the lifestyle is equally contained.

Daly, whose cage-fighting persona is "Ais the Bash", trains at least twice a day six days a week and maintains a meticulously measured diet to attain her 115lb fighting weight. Plain old Aisling would like to have a few drinks and some junk food, but Ais the Bash isn't having it. She's trying to make it to UFC – the Ultimate Fighting Championship – part of the reality TV show The Ultimate Fighter , based in Las Vegas. McGregor is already in UFC.

“The UFC is the pinnacle of MMA competitions and it has been my dream to compete in it since I began training,” says Daly. “Up until very recently, the UFC has been a male-only organisation. With the recent addition of two women’s weight classes, including my own new weight class of 115lbs, I can finally pursue my dream which wasn’t always possible,” she says.


Daly started with karate at the age of 10, then fell in love with jujitsu. At 17 she got her blue belt from martial artist Matt Thornton, founder of Straight Blast Gyms International, which have a branch in Naas, Co Kildare where she trains. Daly saw her first female cage fighters on video and entered the competition before seeing women cage-fight live. "I didn't really need to see them fighting. It was enough for me to know they were there doing it," she says.

As a girl, Daly says she didn’t see any strong female athletes with the personalities that would make them role models and mentors. “It wasn’t a female empowerment issue with me; it was a power and strength issue,” she says.

To get to UFC, Daly is crowd-funding through Pledge Sports along with other athletes whose niche sports don’t qualify for State funding.

Her advice to other women on International Women's Day: "Follow your passion in life and make yourself happy."

You can help Aisling in her quest at: