Casey O'Neill on how Miesha Tate has inspired her to become UFC champion

  • Tom Ward
Casey O'Neill

Rising UFC star Casey O’Neill went from going to school in Kilmarnock to Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand – before being inspired by Miesha Tate to become UFC flyweight champion. 

Originally from Irvine in Scotland, O’Neill moved to Australia aged 10 before relocating to Phuket, Thailand to train at the renowned Tiger Muay Thai gym at the age of 21. 

During her time in Thailand, the future UFC star honed her skills alongside the likes of Loma Lookboonme, Rafael Fiziev and Petr Yan

O’Neill, now 23, made another big change in 2020, moving to Las Vegas, Nevada, to train at Xtreme Couture, the home of UFC champions past and present such as Randy Couture and Francis Ngannou.

Speaking exclusively to GIVEMESPORT, the Scotland-born Australian revealed that she is inspired by the recent success of her teammates Miesha Tate and Claudia Gadelha

“I have Miesha Tate as one of my main training partners, Claudia Gadelha, you know, really high level women who have reached the level that I’m aspiring to achieve at the moment,” said O’Neill. “One of my best friends, Loma, she got into the UFC just as I was coming up, so that was super inspiring. Being able to train alongside her was amazing.

“So it’s nice, like, not only is it inspiring to be like training beside them, it’s nice to go to them for advice. They help me with the things that nobody thinks are going to be a problem.

“For example, like media stuff, they help you with little tips and tricks with everything, you know, so it’s nice to have people to go to who have been there before.”

Casey O'Neill

Understandably, O’Neill (5-0), of Gold Coast, Australia, entered the Octagon with plenty of hype and an undefeated four-fight professional career when she made her debut against Shana Dobson in February of this year.  

The UFC’s hottest new prospect however, made short work of her veteran opponent with a TKO victory in the second round at 3:41 minutes.

O’Neill, who faces Lara Procopio on Saturday night, insists that she is better than the Brazilian in every aspect ahead of her second fight in the United States. 

“I think everybody has weaknesses or holes in their game, for sure, so she’s no different,” said the 23-year-old. “I do see myself having a striking advantage, obviously, having a reach advantage, size difference and everything as well.

“I think that I’ll be a little bit too much for her – overpowering, almost. I would say that I’m not really looking at her disadvantages, I’m just looking at my strengths, and I know they’re a lot stronger than hers.” 

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A lifelong Rangers fan, O’Neill admits that she fell out of love with the beautiful game having been banned from playing for being too rowdy.  

“I mean, to be honest, I haven’t really watched football since I left,” she added. “I was a massive Rangers fan growing up, and I played football for a long time, both in Scotland and in Australia, until I got kicked off of every single team within driving range of Australia for being too aggressive.

“When I got kicked off all the teams, I decided that I wasn’t gonna [sic] watch anymore. Unfortunately, yeah, that ruined the love for me.

“But definitely, I want them to win, obviously, don’t I? We haven’t been in the Euros for a long, long time, so to see Scotland doing well, in any capacity, is nice anyway.”

UFC Vegas 29 takes place Saturday night. The early prelims will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass, while the preliminary card and main card will be broadcast live on BT Sport.

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