Part two of Kerry Hughes’ interview with Irish MMA fighter Cathal Pendred. To read part one where Pendred discussed his TUF experience, his fight at UFC Dublin and Mike King’s drug test failure please click here.
Now Cathal is hard in training for UFC Sweden where he makes a return to Welterweight, a division that he sees as “wide open” following the departure of GSP and one where he is very much looking forward to stamping his name. After all, as the previous holder of the Cage Warriors world title Pendred explains,
“I was the best in Europe, outside of the UFC… Now I’m looking forward to my [full] debut.”
‘The Punisher’ is set to face ‘The Cobra’, Gasan Umalatov, a 31-year-old Russian who carries a 15-3-1 record into the Octagon. The Russian has never been stopped in his professional career and despite the fact he’s not a ‘name’ Cathal is not making the mistake of underestimating his opponent,”I wasn’t really aware of him before the fight was announced but he’s a good fighter…”
Mind you, the Irishman is not short of confidence: “I know I’m better than him on every level, I’m excited about putting on a performance and getting another bonus, but I don’t want ‘Fight of The Night’ this time, I’m going in there to get the job done and get out…” Them’s fighting words!
It’s a real credit to SBG Ireland that their fighters are consistently out proving themselves at such a high standard, and that seems set to continue with the current season of The Ultimate Fighter where Aisling Daly will pit her talents against some of the top straw weights in the world, Pendred has no doubts at all about her abilities and confidently names her as his pick to emerge victorious from this season. What’s clear from the way he speaks is that Cathal is a huge supporter of women’s MMA and he’s genuinely made up for his team mate achieving such recognition.
“Ais over the years has not had as much competition because of a lack of opponents. It’s great to see her getting the recognition and getting the same opportunities as the men.”
Speaking to Pendred about his route into MMA it seems that he developed a lot of his takedown ability and power out on a grassy playing field.
“I went to a secondary school where rugby was very popular, I took it up and was always successful. It wasn’t until I left school that I tried MMA, and in that found something I loved more than rugby, I didn’t have any martial arts background.”
That lack of a specific martial art to make his foundation from doesn’t seem to have held Cathal back in any way, at only 26 he stands on the verge of his second appearance in the UFC, but prior to this he spent 3 years fighting at the very top level in Europe for the Cage Warriors promotion, I asked how important he felt this foundation was for his career.
“Cage Warriors was vastly important to me and my career and I’m very grateful to them for the opportunities. Cage Warriors never gave me an easy fight and that made me the fighter I am today.”
It’s certainly true that Cage Warriors are known for exceptional and fair match making, they are also really making a name for themselves as innovators. I asked Cathal what he thought of their new plans to launch the Academy for amateur fighters and promote their women’s division more heavily, “Cage Warriors are taking great steps forward for European MMA, it will really help to get those fighters visible, and of course CWFC is a proving ground to pass to the UFC.”
Much as I would have liked to continue throwing questions at Cathal he had to get away to train, but what was really clear from the time I spent talking to him was his passion both for fighting and for the sport, at all levels. I’m immensely looking forward to UFC Berlin and I think that Pendred has put the world on notice that he doesn’t plan to leave this one in the hands of the judges.