Last July, Cathal Pendred went into his UFC debut in Dublin with more than just a point to prove.
The Irish welterweight had gone over a year without a competitive bout due to his participation on The Ultimate Fighter. For the Dubliner, his long awaited debut was not just a chance to showcase his ability to an international audience, it was also simply a chance for him to “make some money to continue living normally.”
“There’s definitely a different feel to this event,” he remembered. “It’s no secret how screwed I was financially heading into the last Dublin card for my debut. There was a long lay off from The Ultimate Fighter and that made things even worse for me. It was the longest lay off the series had ever had. I was out of action for nearly a year. I was in a pretty bad way. I was desperate to get in there and compete, but I was also desperate to get in there and make some money to continue living normally. That’s the biggest difference.”
Since that historic night in the Irish capital, Pendred has had his hand raised on three more occasions, clocking up a very respectable record of 4-1 under the flagship banner.
Not only has Pendred’s financial situation changed over the years, but so has his status in the division. While a win against John Howard might have put him into the UFC’s top 15 rankings at UFC 189, despite his loss to the Bostonian Pendred still believes a win over unbeaten Brit Tom Breese will put him into “the upper echelons” of the welterweight bracket.
“This one is different for me in the sense that the last one was my chance to break into the UFC, I feel like this Dublin card is my chance to break into the upper echelons of the division. I’ve been saying it for the last few fights, I just need to go out there and destroy someone because that’s what will take me to the next level, the higher end of the welterweight division.”
There has also been a conscious change in Pendred’s approach in his preparation. Word from the SBG camp is that the former Cage Warriors champion is looking more aggressive than ever before. According to Pendred, his return to strength and conditioning training after a two-year layoff has given him a new edge. To add his new conditioning regime, the Dubliner has made a conscious effort “to be a bit more nasty” in training in the hope that the approach translates to his performance on Saturday night in Dublin.
“I feel like a different animal right now. To cut a long story short, I stopped doing strength and conditioning over the last couple of years. I spent some time in Iceland away from my strength and conditioning team in the ISI and as a result of that I found that my weight cuts were getting easier.
“When it came close to fight time I saw that as an asset and a big advantage over my opponents. I strayed away from the strength and conditioning side of things. I’m always strong and fit so I’ve been able to rely on that to a certain extent. After my last fight I identified an injury and as a result I had to do a lot of strength and conditioning.
“After doing it for a while, I felt like I was back to the animal that I was. I didn’t realize I was missing it because I slowly tapered off that kind of training, I didn’t realize the difference it made over the course of a couple of years, but I think it definitely took something away from my game.
“It’s something I’m excited about and I’m sure Chris (Fields) and some of my other training partners in the gym have noticed. I feel so much stronger and just more in control of other peoples’ bodies.
“I’m trying to be a bit more nasty in training. Not too much, but just a little bit more. You know it’s hard to do that sometimes, you’re training day in day out with your friends. My teammates have become my close friends and sometimes we can all play a bit too nice and I think that can be a bad habit to get into.
“So I’ve made a conscious effort to be a bit nastier in training. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to hurt people, but I’m just trying to be a bit more aggressive. The thing is you can’t expect to train everyday with less intensity and then turn up on fight night and turn into this crazy aggressive fighter. I’ve had to add to that into my training and I think it’s really going to help my game.”
We will have to wait until Saturday to see if the changes to Pendred’s game, on the back of his return to his strength and conditioning regime and his “nastier” approach to training have an impact on his performance. However, should the former Cage Warriors champion get a win against Breese, he’ll be right back where he left off before meeting John Howard in July.
Check out these related stories:
The Mixed Martial Arts of Victorian London
Before BJJ, there was Bartitsu.
Jonathan Maicelo: The Last Inca
Peru's up-and-coming boxing star.
Kron Gracie on Jiu-Jitsu, Skateboarding, Older Brothers, and Famous Fathers
The ties that bind are strong.
Joel Tudor on the Art of Surfing, Fighting, and Style
A surf icon helps MMA keep its sense of tradition.
Japan's Karate Kid: Kyoji Horiguchi
Japan's brightest MMA prospect.