STORMING NORMAN BACK ON TRACK

Norman Parke (red gloves) competes against Reza Madadi (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night
Norman Parke (red gloves) competes against Reza Madadi (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night

Bushmills UFC lightweight fighter Norman Parke restored his pride and broke a two fight losing skid on Saturday night in a co-headliner against Reza Madadi at UFC Fight Night 76.

However, for Parke, there was more at stake than the risk of losing the fight as the popular County Antrim fighter also felt his job was on the line.

From the opening bell. Parke wanted mostly to keep the fight standing and at a good striking distance, where he could utilize his reach advantage. Iranian-born Swede, Madadi, wanted to use his wrestling expertise to put the fight on the floor but it was Parke’s strategy which paid off.

Parke nullified most of Madadi’s takedown efforts, and was successful at keeping his distance, especially in the opening two rounds allowing him to establish himself as the busier and more accurate striker, which made the first two rounds easy to score in his favor.

The third round started off with Parke stuffing takedowns and keeping his distance and although Madadi was getting in some uppercuts and short shots, Parke secured a takedown in the latter half of the round.

Parke wasn’t able to finish and make the splash that he had hoped for, but after going the distance, all three judges scored the fight in his favor, putting him back on the winning track.

After the fight Parke commented: “This was a tough fight and there was a lot of tension at the weigh-in. He came out aggresively and was as strong as a bull.

“My game plan was to keep him guessing with the front kicks, go high, go low. he was coming in for the single leg every time.

“For a lad who hasn’t fought in two and a half years he was pretty good.

“I’m pleased I got the win. I live to see another day and there was a lot at stake for me. I’ve got a kid on the way in January and if you lose another fight in UFC you could get cut and that would be a big hit.

“As it is I get me show bonus and my win bonus. This was a huge win for me as it puts me back in to contention to get into the top tier.

“It was great to feel the home crowd and to fight in front of such an amazing home support. It’s the greatest atmospher I have fought in and one of the best experiences of my career.

“I wish I could have gotten the finish, but at least I got the win, so I live to fight another day. I know in the UFC, they want you to completely destroy your opponent, and that’s when you can ask for bigger matchups. So I would love to fight again in December, because I never really had the opportunity to fight pretty quick; I’ve usually had an injury. So it would be great to get a quick turnaround.

“I don’t really care who it is. I feel I match up pretty well with anyone.”