Back to Beantown: Cathal Pendred on His Boston Beginnings

Fightland Blog

By Peter Carroll

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

There is no doubt that UFC will be pushing the Irish angle as four fighters from the Emerald Isle take to the Octagon in Boston on Sunday, January 18. Given that, it makes the event a lot more exciting for Conor McGregor, Norman Parke, Cathal Pendred and Paddy Holohan who should receive a hometown welcome due to the city being a stronghold of the Irish Diaspora.

However, the TD Garden date might mean more to Pendred than any of other Irish charges. Having gone 2-0 with UFC since his semi-final exit from TUF 19, the Irish welterweight will fight for the first time in his birth place when he meets Sean Spencer in January.

Furthermore, before the SBG man took the TUF path to win himself a place on UFC’s roster, many felt he would join McGregor on the UFC Fight Night 26 card for his debut after he finished Che Mills at Cage Warriors 55 back in June 2013.

Ahead of Pendred’s return to Beantown, he spoke about how he was originally “distraught” at the idea of moving to Ireland when he was still a child.

“I moved to Ireland just before I went to primary school, so I must’ve been four or five,” Pendred revealed. “I have a lot of memories of Boston. I actually remember being quite distraught when I left there. I was basically taken from the world that I knew. I was going to playschool, I had friends, my home and I was kind of uprooted from there.

“I remember being very upset. I didn’t feel like I fit in so much in Ireland, I had a bit of an accent on me and other kids would be telling me that I spoke in a weird way. I always wanted to go back and I just never got the chance to. I have fond memories of Boston, all of my first memories come from there.”

Pendred spoke about how his younger brother Padraig still has a chip on his shoulder about the his mother and father returning to Ireland as he missed out on having dual citizenship like his siblings.

“I’ve never been back and none of my family have been back since we left. Myself and my sister were born over there. My mom actually came home when she was pregnant with my younger brother Padraig. I think she was six months pregnant at the time and he still doesn’t forgive her for coming home because my sister and I have double passports and he doesn’t,” he laughed.

Due to his close links with Boston, Pendred discussed what kind of atmosphere he is expecting when he meets Spencer, citing the his experience of being Irish and living in the city and McGregor’s North American debut in the same venue back in August 2013.

He said: “I can even remember how well we were treated because we were an Irish family. My parents are Irish, they had just moved over before I was born. Boston has such a strong Irish connection and just because we were living there we were treated so well.

“When Conor went over there he only had one fight in UFC. Obviously there was a lot of hype around him but he was treated like he was the hometown hero over there. That’s the way it is in Boston. It’s very much an Irish city and they’re very proud to be Irish. I just can’t wait to get back over there.”

Speaking ahead of the “Time is Now” press conference last Monday, McGregor spoke about how important the Boston date is to Pendred. 

“Cathal has been campaigning for this from day one,” said the Irish featherweight. “This means a lot to Cathal, he was born in Boston or something, he moved when he was five. I didn’t really know that until he started saying it. I know it means a lot to him.

“Again, Cathal comes to fight, he wears his heart on his sleeve and he knows how to prepare. I know this is a nice opponent for him, it’s at 170, it’s in his hometown—it’s perfect. It’s perfect for everybody, it’s the perfect storm.” 


Check out these related stories:

Action at a Distance: John Kavanagh on Coaching across Two Continents

An Interview with Ireland's Comeback Kid

Learning under Fire: The Development of Cathal Pendred