Everything You Need To Know About Aussie UFC Star Casey O’Neill - Women's Health

Everything You Need To Know About Aussie UFC Star Casey O’Neill

After making her debut in the UFC earlier this year, O’Neill has found her footing and is becoming a recognised name.

by | Sep 30, 2021

For many, the UFC is the pinnacle when it comes to dreams of fighting on the world stage. As a sport that’s watched by millions around the world, those athletes who have the mental and physical strength to challenge themselves – and their opponents – know that few opportunities are more significant in their careers. For Casey O’Neill, her shot at the UFC came earlier this year when she took on Shana Dobson in a featherweight bout in Las Vegas. Since then, O’Neill has not only found her footing, but also her place and the UFC has become a home for her. As we watch with awe the star ascendency of this phenomenal athlete, we can’t help but also take stock of O’Neill’s journey. 

Here’s how O’Neill got started in the sport and everything else you need to know about the young talent. 

Growing up

“My parents moved us over to the Gold Coast, I think I was about 10 years old when we got there originally,” she said in an interview with ESPN. “I was super happy to be there, with the theme parks and the sun and the beach, and just everything that I’d never experienced growing up in a place like Scotland.”

O’Neill adds, “It was a pretty easy adjustment when we first got here, the school year was going on and, in Scotland, you start a year before you do in Australia, so my sister and I had about seven months when we didn’t have to go to school. We just hung out all day at the pool, the beach, the theme parks. I was just loving life. Every time I got on the phone to my family back home I was telling them about this dream life that I was living.”

She adds, “And then we started school, which I didn’t love. I had an accent, I was the new girl and I was shy…but it didn’t take me too long to warm up to people and figure out how to do a fake Australian accent to fit in, and we were away from there.”

Instagram/kingcaseymma

A personal journey

While most fighters can attest to falling in love with the sport, for O’Neill the story is an intensely personal one. She fell in love with the sport largely as a result of her deep bond with her father who is also a big fan. Starting out in the MMA, O’Neill then continued to grind daily and work on her fitness, technique and skills to book smaller promotions that helped see her fine-tune her skills across the globe. 

“I started kickboxing because my dad would pick me up from school and I would do it while he was doing it,” O’Neill recalled. “I would sit on the sidelines and I would beg to jump in or I’d shadowbox and stand there and pretend I was involved, just anything to hang out with my dad. That’s how it started with the kickboxing, and then once we moved to Australia I just always wanted to hang out with my dad. I just thought my dad was the coolest person in the world. Whatever he was doing, I was doing; when he started doing jiu-jitsu in Australia, I started doing jiu-jitsu.”

Instagram/kingcaseymma

A derailed UFC debut

O’Neill’s first UFC debut came back in 2020 but unfortunately the global coronavirus pandemic came and halted such plans of seeing her take her first crack inside the Octagon. Not one to give up or dwell on the negatives, O’Neill seized the chance to look for a positive.

Instagram/kingcaseymma

The move to UFC

After recovering from a Covid-episode, O’Neill booked her first UFC debut against Dobson. “I’m super confident in my abilities as a fighter, I work on everything 24/7, I don’t really take time off. So I would say that I am a pretty well-rounded fighter and I do have a lot of ways of finishing fights, which I’ve proven in the past, and I can also go the distance.”

Now, O’Neill believes she’s one of the “top five” fighters in the UFC’s flyweight division, having remained in Las Vegas under the guidance of Xtreme Couture MMA. “I look at my division and I see myself as one of the top five in the division, and with experience and time I’m going to prove that to everybody else. Obviously I’m super young and I have a lot of time to grow, but I’m definitely one of the most talented people in the flyweight division, in my opinion,” she said. 

“And to show that to everyone I’m happy to fight from the bottom of the roster all the way to the top, I’ll fight everybody who is there in the division, gain that experience, gain some fans and gain some money, and prove to everybody that I am what I say I am.”

Instagram/kingcaseymma

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It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 

Nagnata

Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

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New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 

Nike

Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

Few things are worse than heading out the door for a run and realising your shorts offer no pockets for those essentials you need. You’re left to hold your iPhone, keys, and anything else you might need in your sweaty palm. Thankfully, Naomi Osaka knows what we need when it comes to exercise shorts and these utility shorts from her collaboration with Nike offer all that and more with a relaxed fit and elastic waistband. 

Tracksmith

Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

Who said summer shorts have to be boring? Outdoor Voices brings fashion-forward style and playfulness to their collections with fun prints and exciting colours. We love the relay 3” shorts for their ultralight, quick-drying fabric that also happens to be made from recycled polyester. But more importantly, we love the print and Poppy Swirl is as good as it gets. There’s even a hidden pocket for your valuables, too. 

Lululemon

Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?