Former MMA fighter Gary Bligh has been sentenced to almost four years in jail stemming from a September 2020 arrest in his home country of Ireland.
Last week, the 34-year-old Bligh was handed a sentence of 47 months following his 2020 arrest for possession of three semi-automatic handguns, all of which were fully loaded.
After receiving notice that weapons were being moved between gangs from Dublin to Roscommon, Irish law enforcement apprehended Bligh on a Roscommon street the night of September 30th, 2020. They subsequently discovered the three firearms in Bligh’s possession, and follow-up searches by police at a Roscommon location connected to the gang activity also revealed a small quantity of heroin.
Not considered to be a central figure of the gang, the former MMA fighter’s involvement is believed to be related to a drug debt. Bligh indicated to Irish law enforcement that he hadn’t looked inside the bag he’d been given and thought it only contained sleeping tablets, but a judge found this claim to be unlikely given the weight of the bag.
Convicted Irish gangster John Gilligan is suspected to have arranged the transport of the firearms from Spain to Ireland. The 68-year-old previously served 17 years in jail for his involvement in a drug-trafficking operation, which came after his acquittal in connection to the murder of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin in 2001. Gilligan was arrested in Spain on drug and firearms charges just weeks after Bligh’s arrest but was released on bail in December 2020.
Bligh previously competed in two amateur MMA bouts in 2014, losing both of those fights by submission.
While Bligh hasn’t competed in MMA since 2014, this is the second time in less than a month an MMA fighter has made headlines in connection to an Irish crime boss. UFC fighter Mournir Lazzez thanked wanted criminal Daniel Kinahan in a controversial post-fight interview following Lazzez’s win over Ange Loosa at UFC Vegas 51 last month.
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