Our TUF Experience (Pt 4): Cathal Pendred – “I didn’t sleep right for two months after the Eddie Gordon fight”

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Having narrowly lost a split decision to Eddie Gordon in the semi-final of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Edgar vs Team Penn, Cathal Pendred spoke to PETER CARROLL about his overall TUF experience and his July 19 date with fellow contestant Mike King.

Cathal Pendred came out like a man possessed as soon as the bell rang for his semi-final bout against dangerous striker Eddie Gordon. Scoring takedowns and finding success in the striking department, the first round was clearly marked for the Dubliner.

Despite continuing to force his will on Gordon in the second, the Team Edgar man managed to capitalise on a spinning back fist attempt from Pendred in the last two minutes and his control from top position won him the nod from the judges.

Forced to a deciding round, both fighters landed strikes but it was the SBG fighter who constantly tried to take the fight to the ground. However, Gordon was equal to his takedown attempts and in spite of Pendred clearly being the more aggressive fighter, the American had his hand raised, signalling his victory in an agonisingly close contest.

“I think I won the first round pretty convincingly. I took the guy down four or five times and in the last few seconds I got him in a full-on rear naked choke but time ran out. It was 100% on, I had my arm locked under his chin.

“I still had the momentum in the second round and I was pushing the pace and piling the pressure on. I was doing well in the striking department too, I even landed a few capoeira kicks,” Pendred laughed.

“I think I got a bit too flamboyant and midway through the second round when I threw a spinning back fist. As I threw it he went for a takedown and ended up with a body lock on my back, but he ended up in my guard for about a minute and a half.

“Nothing really happened, he was just there, but he was there for so long he was given the second round. It was one each then so it went into the third round.

“It was a close round but I thought I won it. There were no takedowns, I attempted a few when we were on the fence but I couldn’t get them. I pushed the pace a bit more and I landed some nice shots.

“Eddie landed a couple as well, but I thought I got the better of him. I thought I won the third round.

“In fairness, not a lot of people were shocked by the decision because it was very close fight. Dana said himself that he thought it was a close fight that I won. You definitely couldn’t say it was a robbery.

“It wasn’t that one-sided, but it came down to the third round and I thought that I did enough to win it. Obviously one judge felt the same, two didn’t, and in the end it came down to one person’s opinion.”

The former Cage Warriors 170lbs king also commented on the environment that TUF forces its contestants into and how the development of the sport over the years has reduced the benefits of training with an adopted team.

“As far as improving in the house, I don’t think it’s that kind of environment for fighters anymore. In the first couple of seasons guys were coming in there, they were firemen and stuff and they were getting to train full-time for the first time ever.

“Now, most if not all the guys are training full-time themselves, it’s what they do and they’re part of camps. When they’re brought into the house they’re taken out of their camps and they’re put in an environment where they’re not as comfortable with their surroundings or the people they’re with. So, in a lot of cases, it’s not as good as the training you have at home.”

The Dubliner discussed his performances on the show and revealed that his quest for perfection never allows him to sit back and admire his handiwork.

Pendred said: “I’m my own biggest critic. Out of all the fights I’ve had, I’ve never been unbelievably satisfied about the actual performances. That’s just the way I am and I’ll always be looking to have a flawless performance, but that rarely happens.

“People are always talking about learning from their losses. If I only learned from my losses, I’ve only had two, I wouldn’t know anything. I need to learn from victories so I pick them apart.

“Even my win against Che Mills, I steamrolled him last June, I pretty much did exactly what I wanted to do but I still wasn’t happy with it. I feel the same about the fights I had in the house.

“I feel good about the win, I was happy with some of things I did like the capoeira kicks – that’s something you wouldn’t have seen from me last year. There were some improvements like that but I’ve come away with a lot of things that I can work on.

“Even when I have a UFC belt wrapped around my waist I’m still going to be trying to improve every day.”

With his former TUF housemate, Mike King, set in his crosshairs for UFC’s July return to Dublin, the Team Penn man outlined why it would be foolish to think that he had a good understanding of his opponent’s style.

“It’s one of those things where I am familiar enough with his style but I’m not going to focus on that because he could come out there in July and be a completely different fighter. I’m preparing for everything and mainly focusing on myself.

“In the end this has worked out better than what could’ve happened because I went in there with the aim to get into the final and had that been the case I’d be making my UFC debut in Vegas at The Ultimate Fighter finale.

“Instead I’m making my UFC debut at the fastest selling UFC event ever, in my hometown with three of my team mates. This is ten times better than what I wished for.

“They say some things happen for a reason, I didn’t sleep right for about two months after that fight with Eddie Gordon. I was thinking why the hell did I throw that spinning back fist?

“Essentially that’s what it came down to, the fight was mine until I threw that spinning back fist. It’s worked out for the better now and I’m glad I did it!”

Having pursued a contract with UFC for the last two years, Pendred described his feelings on finally signing on the dotted line for the world’s flagship MMA promotion.

“It’s a huge milestone, I can’t wait for it. To be honest, it’s long time coming, maybe too long. I’ve been ready for this for a long time and I’m looking forward to going in there.

“A lot of guys make it to the UFC, they put a string of wins together to get in and that’s all they wanted to do, just make it to the big show. I’ve been the most dominant welterweight on the European scene for the last two years.

“I’ve beaten more UFC veterans than anyone else. I’ve got four of them on my resume. I’m so confident, this has come at the perfect time and I couldn’t feel better about it.

“If you’ve been on The Ultimate Fighter you get a ten fight contract. It is a ten fight contract but it may as well be for four fights because if you’re not performing UFC can cut you at any stage.

“It makes no difference to me how many fights are on the contract, I have the same goals I’ve always had,” he said.

Given his success in the 170lbs division, speculation has been rampant as to what weight Pendred wants to compete at. The former champion gave his thoughts on what category he should feature in.

“This one is at middleweight and I’m kind of liking it at the moment. I can still make 170 but we’ll have to wait and see after this fight whether I’ll be going down or not,” said Pendred.

Finally, Pendred gave his thoughts on what will happen once the bell rings in the 02 Arena on July 19th.

“I’m going to win that’s all I know. I don’t like making predictions because ultimately how the fight ends depends on what mistakes he makes. If he leaves his neck out there I’m going to choke him and if he throws a punch a little flat footed and leaves his chin high he’s going to get put to sleep.

“I’m not gonna predict what mistake he will make but I do predict that when he does I’ll be ready to pounce on it.”

@PetesyCarroll

Please check out previous installments of “Our TUF Experience” with Cathal Pendred and Chris Fields:

Part 1 ¦ Part 2 ¦ Part 3

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.