International fans around the world were, for the most part, exposed to Cathal Pendred first through The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). He went into that show as a Cage Warriors champ and had big expectations to live up to.
Things didn’t go too well for the Dubliner on the reality show but you can never really judge a fighter when he is put into a scenario like TUF. The house, the cameras, the uncertainty of the competition and living with the people you are competing against, TUF really is an incredibly difficult competition.
After his stint on TUF he was matched-up against Mike King, a fellow contestant, for the UFC’s long awaited return to Ireland and it was here that Pendred showcased his trademark heart and determination. After being nearly KO’d a number of times in the fight he rallied back and secured a second round rear-naked choke to get the win in front of a exuberant hometown crowd.
How could you not love a guy who was on the brink of defeat, after taking so much damage, coming back and winning a fight. It was Rocky-esque and it won him over a serious amount of fans.
Since then though his support has waned somewhat and has become a bit of a fighter people love to hate online. This is due to his last two fights. In his first fight since his heroics in Dublin, Pendred faced Gasan Umalatov in Sweden and won by a dubious split decision. Many felt that Umalatov should have received the nod and many criticised Pendred’s performance, mainly his striking.
Fast forward to January of this year and a very similar occurance happened. Pendred won his fight via unanimous decision, to which even Dana White highly criticised, and his striking received major criticism.
Pendred is not at fault for how the judges score a fight but it seems that everyone wants to blame him for that. Granted they were lucky decisions (in my opinion) but Pendred fought his fight and that’s all he can do. In terms of his striking, one must admire Pendred for his attempts to improve his game at the elitist level of the sport.
I have likened Pendred’s style to Mark Coleman, a grappler/wrestler who will take you down or press you against the cage and simply break you. His heart and determination helps him as he can take punishment and simply keep going, a ‘Terminator’ of sorts. In his past couple of fights he has been attempting capoeira-type kicks, uppercuts and all sorts of different striking we than we have grown accustomed to over the years from the Dubliner.
However, this has been his downfall from a fan perspective. All fans see is a fighter who is trying these strikes, which are rarely landing, and immediately classing him as mediocre. You can’t blame them either as a fighter will be judged on his performance and overall his past two performances have not been great.
A return to the old-Pendred is needed I feel. The Pendred that wore out Che Mills, the one that out-worked David Bielkheden, Bruno Carvalho and Gael Grimaud. Growth as a fighter will eventually come and it can’t be rushed. It is good to know Pendred has been willing to try new things, it shows his mindset and his determination.
He needs a performance which will silence the critics and change the perception of what type of fighter he is. Never have I seen a fighter who is 3-0 in the UFC and on an overall 11 fight unbeaten run receive so much criticism from professionals and fans alike but at least it is in his own very capable hands to change that.
He also needs a good performance in order to beat a dangerous fighter like Augusto Mantano (15-1) this Saturday night. The last two decisions have went Pendred’s way and he could easily be 1-2 in the UFC rather than 3-0. A missed or poorly timed strike against Mantano and the Mexican will punish you.