“I’m a baby in this game” – Max Lally ahead of Cage Legacy 23

Combat sports history is littered with tales of young fighters who chose the wrong path and ultimately paid the price.

In a landscape full of unscrupulous characters, the importance of having the right guidance and the right people around you can make or break a young fighter’s career. If those in your inner circle see you as a cash cow, you run the risk of being ushered down the wrong road while you attempt to navigate your way through the murky waters of the professional fight game.

Irish featherweight Max Lally has long been touted in European mixed martial arts circles as an exciting talent. An unbeaten amateur career full of exhilarating performances and mouth watering finishes allowed Lally the time to round out his skillset and evolve from being a promising teenage grappling phenom into a fully-fledged mixed martial artist by the age of just twenty.

Having entered the professional ranks late last year and carrying a large reputation on his young shoulders, Lally recognises the importance of surrounding himself with the right people.

You can tell a person’s character by who they have around them” said Max when I spoke with him this week. “I have lots of dedicated coaches in Sergei Pikulsky, Collie Mahon, Owen Roddy and John Connor all in my corner…all guiding me towards where I want to go, and are as dedicated to their craft as I am to mine.

I’m always there, I’m always showing up. That’s important for a fighter, but it’s also important that the coaches do the same and I find with the guys that I have in my corner they’re always there for me, they’re always guiding me in the right direction.

“My family…my mother and father…have put me in this sport from a young age. They’ve guided me and helped me get to where I am today. Without that kind of support, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I’m very grateful.

“Big buildings are built on solid foundations. Without that, they crumble”.

Now 2-0 as a professional, Lally is acutely aware that he is in no rush to reach the top of the sport just yet.

I put a six fight plan in place. I think it’s very important to have short term goals” he said when asked about how he sees the early stages of his professional career playing out. “Everybody talks about their long term plans, but it’s the one or two year plans that actually bring you closer to the ultimate goal.

“My personal goal was to build my fanbase with a handful of pro fights on the Irish regional scene, to try and build some excitement and grow my reputation before looking towards larger, international promotions. The goal is three pro fights in year one, three pro fights in year two.

I understand I am in absolutely no rush whatsoever. I haven’t even dipped my toes in this game yet. I’m a baby in this game…I’m twenty years old. I could easily try to get 3,4,5 fights in this year, start banging out the fights. If I start doing that, what happens next?

“A good example would be (UK prospect) Lewis McGrillen. He’s so young…22/23 years old? He already has ten pro fights to his name! Where do you go from there? On a technical level, he might be ready or he might not, but usually someone with ten pro fights starts getting thrown in with the veterans. I just think it’s important to monitor your progress, see how you’re progressing in the gym, and take it fight by fight.

“The only reason I went pro is because I was struggling to get fights at amateur level. I couldn’t wait around 6-8 months to have a fight. After my fight with Tiarnan Loughran, I struggled to get matched and that’s the truth. I would have loved to have 13 or 14 amateur fights but it wasn’t to be.

“I’m in no rush now. I’m constantly training between fights, constantly improving. I’m enjoying my training and enjoying fighting and that’s the most important thing”.

Max Lally returns to action when he faces Cage Warriors veteran Wesley Machado in the main event at Cage Legacy 23 in Dublin, Ireland on July 27th.

By Paul Browne

Owner/Editor of SevereMMA.com. Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.

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