Coming into 2022 on a four-fight winning streak to start off his career, featherweight Ciaran Clarke was looking to keep things rolling when he faced Abou Tounkara at Bellator 275 this past February.
Following a strong showing in the first round, Tounkara was forced to retire following a shoulder injury, giving Clarke his fifth win in a row, even if it came in a fashion he wasn’t anticipating at all.
“Initially I didn’t know why the fight was stopped, if it was an injury or what,” Clarke told MMAWeekly.com. “Watching it back I saw what happened, (Tounkara’s) shoulder hit the mat and that’s when the dislocation happened, and he fought on, but obviously the stoppage happened.
“It was bittersweet. It was a win. Honestly I’m just looking forward to moving on. It was good to get that win behind me, but now I’m moving on and I’m looking forward (to my next fight).”
Following the win, Clarke went back to working on his game. He feels like things have been even better for this camp because not only has he been preparing for his next fight but many of his teammates have as well, creating a sense of group motivation.
“After that fight I took a week off just to decompress and then it’s back gym, getting better, training with the guys and helping them get ready for fights,” said Clarke. “A bunch of us are fighting on the same card, and it’s made great buzz in the gym. Everyone’s focused on the same goals. It’s been great.”
On September 23 in Dublin, Ireland, Clarke (5-0) looks to remain undefeated when he takes on Georges Sasu (4-2) in a main card 145-pound bout at Bellator 285.
“From what I’ve seen of him he’s a good striker, he switches stances; he fights tall, and has good range,” Clarke said of Sasu. “He’s a good striker and looks like he can grapple as well.
“It’s going to be a tough fight. I’m prepared well, healthy, strong, and fit, so I’m coming into this one the best version of myself. As always I’m going to put on my opponent and go out there and get the win.”
For Clarke, picking up a victory on September 23 would be a great way to segue into another fight hopefully within the next few months.
“It’d be great just getting another win under my belt,” said Clarke. “After that we’ll have a conversation about maybe having a fight in December or at the start of next year; whatever way it works.
“For me it’s just focusing on this one. I like to focus on these fights because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow; whether it be injuries or pullouts or whatever; so I’m just focused on these fights.”