As Paddy ‘The Hooligan’ Holohan stepped on the scales for the first time under the UFC banner last year in Dublin, there was no denying the intensity he was bringing into his promotional debut.
The first fight on the UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs Brandao card, the Dubliner claimed he would act as “a berserker” for his fellow Irish charges. His sound first-round submission victory over Josh Sampo got the ball rolling for ‘The Hooligan’ in terms of his UFC career, and now, 15 months and three fights later, the Irish flyweight will headline in his hometown after Joe Duffy was forced to withdraw from the card.
“I’m happy, I really am,” said the SBG man to the gathered media today in the 3 Arena. “I think it could have been that way from the start, I would’ve had more say on how some things went. There’s no doubt about it, I’m proud to take that place. It’s from nothing to something, that’s what it’s all about, and I’m not just talking about sports, I’m talking about anything. If you want it, get after it.”
Understandably, some fans have not taken the news very well. With the co-main event being pulled on October 13, the new of Joe Duffy’s exit from the card has only dampened the spirits of a lot of people who paid for tickets for the Dublin event.
Holohan is not fazed by some of the backlash his main event slotting has brought with it. According to the submission specialist, the fans who are upset with the new headline bout should get a refund on their tickets to allow real fans to buy them. For Holohan, it is the people that have followed his ascent to the UFC ranks that deserve to share in “the festival atmosphere” in the 3 Arena in two days’ time.
“I hear that a lot of people aren’t happy about it, but the real people, the people that I want there personally, we’ve been grinding for this for nearly ten years. If you’ve spent €85 and you’re only following the sport six months, you’re more than welcome to get your money back. If you want to, you can spend your Saturday night somewhere else.
“There are people in my housing estate that couldn’t get their hands on tickets. The people that got them tickets after following the sport for just a few months, they don’t deserve them tickets over the people who have followed me to little broken down GAA clubs and small events where there were only 100 people at them.
“They are the people I want there, and they’re the people who deserve to share in the atmosphere because when this main event comes around, there’s going to be a festival atmosphere in there.”
Holohan is adamant that he has earned his main event debut having fought four times since beginning his UFC tenure. The flyweight also believes the volume of his opening fight with Sampo in Dublin last year has proved him as a fan favorite
“I walked out first the last time and that was a main event atmosphere. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a flyweight bout, I’m including when titles are on the line, that had the same atmosphere as my fight in Dublin last year. I went out and I delivered, so I earned my spot.
“I have one loss on this journey after 15 months, and I’ve been working hard for 15 months. I have turned down no fights, I haven’t turned away from anybody, I have taken everything they have put in my way and I’ve moved forward. I’ve fought with injuries, I’ve done camps with injuries and I’m still here.”
Finally, Holohan maintained that Louis Smolka will not be able to show him anything new in their main event clash. To add to that, the Irishman is confident that the Hawaiian has never felt an atmosphere like he will in the 3 Arena.
“It’s going to go down in two days time and I really feel like I’ve never walked up to another man in another gym that has put me in a position that I am not comfortable with. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time. I don’t just do stand up fighting or anything like that, this is free and loose. It’s freestyle.
“I’ve seen all the positions before, I’ve been doing this for 10,000 hours. I seek perfection in this game. So if Louis thinks he’s going to fly over here and show me something new, I’m going to show him something new.
“Wait until he hears that crowd out there. He thinks he’s fought on hostile territory before. This isn’t hostile territory, this is somewhere where someone is absolutely loved. I’m one of them, I’m one of them people that is sitting in the crowd and I’ve just happened to make it to the highest point of my career.”
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