Monday, October 12, 2015

Catherine Costigan on MMA, surgery and ignoring age limits

Catherine Costigan MMA Limerick Ireland Invicta BAMMA
PIC Catherine Costgan MMA for Invicta
Energy, passion, enthusiasm and a huge grin – this is what I took away from meeting Catherine Costigan a few weeks ago. And when we spoke on the phone, she had so much more to say I had to keep asking her to slow down so my scribbling could keep up. 

From Limerick in the west of Ireland, Catherine was one of the first female MMA fighters in the country. She’s fights at Atomweight (c. 48kgs or 105lbs) with Invicata mainly and also BAMMA in Ireland:  nine fights behind her. Pretty light but no pushover. 

Now in her late 30s, she had neck-fusion surgery about three years ago. These are two things which would normally rule someone out of an intense combat-sport. 

She says: “When the doctor saw the scan (of my neck) he said hmm, maybe you should retire because your disc has crushed into your spinal cord. That’s what all the pain was. 

“Now I have a titanium plate there, I’m always telling people if you have neck issues go to the right hospital. I went through four surgeons before I decided on Dr Pynton at the Mater in Dublin. One guy said why do you want to do such a barbaric sport? 

“I was like ‘you’re out’.”

The medic’s name sits proudly on her fight banner, and he still checks in on her. There’s never an end to injuries but once that chronic pain lifted, so did her career. 

Catherine Costigan MMA Limerick Ireland Invicta BAMMA
Catherine Costigan MMA
And as for her age in a sport where most women are in their twenties if not younger, Catherine says age is not an issue. Although she does say she’s sponsored by Dr Dave’s Best Supplements. 

She says: “You see older guys fighting, even dominating divisions. It doesn’t necessarily mean your age is going to hold you back in MMA. This is different to being pro-rugby player, you can still fight if you’re taking care of yourself. 

“I don’t have an end in mind, having said that I don’t want to be still fighting in ten years’ time. I do want my 10th fight to be special. At the end of the day as long as my supporters are still willing to pay a ticket to see me, than my time is still deserving of that cage.” 

Coming off some unsatisfactory fights including a defeat at BAMMA Ireland, Catherine is planning some No-gi Ju Jitsu tournaments (that’s ju jitsu without the white gi, and slightly different rules). 

“It would be good to focus on my groundwork. You just show up at these tournaments, no-one knows who you are. You show up and you have a bit of fun,” she says. 

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More to come from this interview

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