Leave no stone unturned – Cathal Pendred ahead of 170 return

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There has been a lot of anticipation ahead of Cathal Pendred’s return to his old stomping ground at weltwerweight in Stockholm on Saturday night. Set to meet Russia’s Gasan Umalatov, the Dubliner is confident that there will be no issues on the scales at Friday’s weigh-in due to his meticulous strategies.

“I’m exactly where I was the same time out from the Che Mills fight. I’m over the moon,” said the former Cage Warriors welterweight champion. “I had to be on championship weight for that fight, but this time I have the extra leeway of a pound so it’s perfect.

“It was kind of in the back of my mind that it could be difficult because I haven’t made that weight in over a year, but that’s the great thing about my system. The way I document it has been very helpful. I’ve been able to check where I am the whole way through the process.

“Had I not kept a journal of where my weight was for the last seven or eight fights, then I wouldn’t have known for sure. Even if I was at the same weight I am now I could’ve had some doubt if I didn’t have it documented. I’m where I need to be, I feel great – I just want to make weight, go out on and put on a memorable performance.

“Because I hadn’t been there in so long I wanted to be sure, so I start being much stricter with my diet sooner than I would usually when I had been fighting consistently at 170. This time around I was just being that bit more cautious.

“Repetition of things it what makes them easy, it gives you confidence, so I just wanted to be extra careful having not been down that low for a while. Once the weight cut is not an issue, the only thing you have to focus on is the performance and that’s all I wanted.”

After his spectacular comeback win on his UFC debut over Mike King, who later tested positive for PED usage, Pendred had to field some misinformed questions on his sport from one of Ireland’s leading radio braodcasters, Ray D’Arcy, when he appeared on his morning show. Coming out the other side the better of the two, Pendred highlighted how he believes most peoples’ problems with the sport are based on misconceptions.

He explained: “It’s hard to understand from my point of view to be honest. I don’t really know where this stuff comes from. Success always breeds hate for whatever reasons. I don’t let it affect me. If anyone ever has a problem with the sport I’m happy to debate the legitimacy of the sport and the safety of the sport because I really believe in it.

“I believe that facts and statistics and the truth will always win out in a debate and I feel like I have the knowledge to debate with what always seems to be unknowledgeable people.

“Anyone that ever seems to have a problem has a lot of misconceptions when it comes to MMA. They’re just looking from the outside and they haven’t looked into it. I’m always happy to put people back in their place.”

There is a real excitement around Pendred ahead of his return to his preferred weight class. He revealed that getting his debut out of the way and not having the added pressure of fighting in front of his hometown crowd will all help to make this a “spectacular” sophomore outing.

“There are so many ingredients that seem to be coming together perfectly, it’s all lining up for me to put in a spectacular performance. I’m going back down to the weight class I feel most confident at. I’ve made my debut in the UFC and I feel like I belong after I’ve got my first win under my belt.

“I wouldn’t have called it UFC jitters but it was all new to me the last time. This time around – I’ve been there, done that and worn the t-shirt. You got to remember that for my debut there was a massive amount of attention. There was a big hullabaloo about it.

“It was fantastic, but maybe not ideal for a debut. For this fight it doesn’t feel as invasive or anything. Around Stockholm it’s a bit more relaxed and as a result I’m more relaxed and confident. All these ingredients are lining up for me to give an amazing performance and I really feel like I will send out a statement on Saturday night,” he said.

Having a lot more attention on him ahead of his performances after the sport’s explosion after July 19’s UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs Brandao, Pendred claimed that although media obligations do take more time out of his schedule, it is par for the course given his current status in the sport.

“It does take a lot of time,” admitted Pendred. “Sometimes you’re coming home after a long day of training and as soon as you’re in the door UFC are ringing you to do an interview. Sometimes it can be annoying, but it’s just part of the job.

“I think back to how great it was when I didn’t have to do that, but would I rather be back there being broke, fighting for pittance and not fighting for the best company in the world?

“A million times out of a million I’ll tell you that I’ll take the interview. For instance I have just arrived in Stockholm, I’ve had an hour and a half journey from the airport to the hotel and I haven’t even gone to my hotel room yet.

“I was brought straight into a little office and this is the third interview that I have done. That’s just how things are different but I wouldn’t change it for the world because that’s what it takes when you’re among the best at what you do.”

Pendred also spoke about how he feels he will need no more than one round to put Umalatov away:
“I visualized a lot of different finishes, I really feel like I’m going to put this guy away in the first round. I’m working a lot on my striking with Owen Roddy at the moment. My striking game has come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of months.

“On top of that, my grappling feels phenomenal. I’m working with some of the best grapplers in the world out of SBG and I’m doing really well, I’ve never been more confident in my submission game.

“I’d love to go out and submit this guy because I know that is his strength. He seems to be more of a grappler, but I’m happy to knock him out if he lifts that chin for too long as well.”

@PetesyCarroll

Peter Carroll is Severe MMA's lead feature writer. He has been featured in many top publications and some rubbish ones too. He also writes for the Irish Daily Mirror and Vice's Fightland.