The fighting Irishman: Mixed martial artist Rory O'Farrell talks work ethic and pain

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Rory O' Farrell is a mixed martial arts prizefighter, but with his matching shamrock chest tattoos and a red chin-strap, he'd look just as at home as an extra in a Dropkick Murphys video as he does in an MMA ring. O' Farrell fights tomorrow night at Kick Down 87 for the Light Heavyweight Title, putting his 8-1 record on the line against undefeated 7-0 Chris Dollabum. We caught up with O'Farrell to discuss his Irish roots, the UFC dream and the three P's he sees coming from this fight.

Westword: You have some proud Irish roots; can you tell us about them a bit? Rory O'Farrell: My grandparents emigrated from Ireland and worked hard to develop our family's humble beginnings here in America. They had to come to America one at a time, because they had no money, and my grandfather worked hard to earn enough money to be able to send for my grandmother. Once she was here, they started a family and raised my dad and his brothers and sisters in Denver. Their hard work has been passed down through our family and has been a huge example that gives me the drive to achieve my goals.

I'd be proud to be part of my family regardless of where they came from, but who doesn't like an Irishman?

WW: Due to a clerical error, your NCAA wrestling dreams were shattered when it was discovered you weren't eligible at the school you transferred to. What was it like having that dream taken from you, and have you used that at all as motivation? ROF: I was devastated when realized that my goal of becoming an NCAA All-American would never happen. I was dedicated and worked hard for the majority of my life to achieve that one goal. It felt like a part of me died. Competitors in the wrestling world know what I mean when I say, "I live with the wrestler's curse." I will never be satisfied with how my wrestling career ended.

I'm committed to not let the past dictate my future, but without a doubt it drives me to accomplish new and bigger goals. My MMA career will not end with the same devastation that my wrestling career did. I am grateful for my roots in wrestling and look forward to what my future will hold in MMA. I have created new dreams and use those as well as my past as motivation for every training session, every tournament and every fight.

WW: What was Thanksgiving like with you preparing for a fight like this? ROF: Thanksgiving this year helped me stay grounded. I spent time with my family, my teammates and got some great training sessions in.

WW: Take us through a normal training day for you. ROF: I wake up in the morning and get my strength training done, go to fight training at Infinite Mixed Martial Arts Academy from 5:30pm to 8:30pm, and then finish up with cardio until 9:30pm.

WW: What are your long-term plans for fighting? ROF: If you're not in it to be the best, why be in it? I have my sights set on the highest goal possible. I want to be in the UFC, and I think that's an attainable goal. It's going to be a long, hard road with bumps on the way, but I am dedicated, and I have a strong support system from family, friends, and coaches. I'm excited to see what my future holds in MMA.

WW: Your current record is 8 wins and 1 loss, and your opponent is undefeated with 7 wins. Do records mean anything going into a fight, or is this just another day at the office? ROF: Once you step into the cage, records don't mean a thing. I focus on the things in my training that I can control. My technique, strength, and shape are things that I focus on, going through the details of the fight and playing out all the possible scenarios in my mind so I am ready for everything. My opponent is going to be tough, and I am prepared to go three rounds.

WW: Give us a sneak preview of what the fight is going to be like. ROF: Pressure, pain and patience.

Rory O' Farrell takes on Chris Dollbaum for the Kick Down Light Heavyweight Title at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Red Lion Hotel, 4040 Quebec Street. For tickets or more information, call 720-422-5154 or visit the Kick Down MMA website.

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