Pendred’s ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ Boston bout: “It’ll be just right”

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Cathal Pendred dodged a terrifying bullet throughout his career up until this year. Despite Cage Warriors hosting regular New Year’s Eve events in his hometown, the Dubliner never had to miss his Christmas dinner.

In fact, the SBG man holds the festive season so dear that he used to turn down bouts at Christmas. If you thought that having finally made it to MMA’s biggest stage, UFC, missing out on some of the culinary trimming wouldn’t bother him, you would be very wrong.

“Ah, I just had a bit of turkey, ham and some Brussels sprouts,” Pendred sighed. “It wasn’t a complete write off but Christmas dinner isn’t the same without a bit of stuffing and roast potatoes, it was a bit miserable to be honest.

“My whole family are heading over to Boston on the Thursday and as soon as this fight is over I’m going to go and look for a restaurant that will do a huge Christmas dinner for all of us. I’m owed a big Christmas dinner.

“Even when Cage Warriors were doing the New Year’s Eve shows, I would always turn down those fights. I live like a monk all year. I rarely drink and I stick to a strict diet.

“Christmas is the one time of year that I leave for going for a few pints, catching up with friends and eating a bit of shit food. I couldn’t really turn down this fight though.

“I suppose it’s a bad time for Sean Spencer to get me. He’s dealing with an angry customer now that I’ve missed my big Christmas dinner!”

Currently 2-0 under the UFC banner, Pendred discussed the added comfort he feels in his preparation with team mates Conor McGregor and Paddy Holohan also getting ready for action on the TD Garden card.

He said: “It just feels like business as usual. We’ve been doing this since 2009 or 2010 when there used to be about ten of us on those Cage Contender cards. There always seems to be a few of us on every card, even in the Cage Warriors days. Now it’s UFC, but it just feels normal.

“There are a few of us in it together so that’s good. We are aiming to peak at the same time and we’ll be cutting weight at the same, that part of it is a lonely process so when you’re doing it with a few guys it makes it that bit easier.

“It’s always light hearted in the gym right up until we have to work. Before we spar we’re sitting around laughing on the mats, we’re joking around and we’re having a good time. That’s one of the things that makes it feel like it’s not really work even though this is our job, it just feels like you’re hanging around with your mates.

“Once the buzzer goes off and it’s time for sparring or training, all the joking and messing around stops.”

With the whole Pendred clan set to revisit the city that both Cathal and his sister were born in, the welterweight insisted that there are some trips down memory lane scheduled for after his meeting with Spencer:

“As I was saying, the whole family are coming over and we’re going to stay in Boston for about five days after the fight. We want to go and visit the old house, my old play school that I used to go to and the hospital that my sister and I were born in. We’ll do that whole tour.

“I’ve got a good memory of it all, but there is a lot of I would like to see again because I was so young, it would be nice to refresh my memory,” said Pendred.

The SBG fighter pulled no punches after his bout with Gasan Umalatov in Stockholm on October 4. Hoping to use the performance to launch his assault on the 170 lbs division, Umalatov’s reluctance to engage resulted in what Pendred described as a “lack lustre” performance.

Although some Irish fans were disappointed with the Umalatov fight after Pendred’s breathtaking debut against Mike King in Dublin, the Irishman maintained that the only pressure he will feel to perform against Sean Spencer will be the pressure he puts on himself.

“I never really feel like I have to prove myself to anyone else,” claimed Pendred. “People talk about pressure because there are people going over to see me, but the only pressure I feel is what I put on myself. I feel like winning is the only option, I feel like putting on a performance is the only option.

“It’s all comes down to me, so I don’t really care what anyone else thinks. I have no doubt that people thought my last performance was a bit lack lustre because I certainly did. I’m my own biggest critic and definitely wasn’t happy with it, but I just want to get out there and leave it all in the cage.

“My opponent, I haven’t seen a lot of him, but I’ve seen bits of him. This isn’t a guy who is going to put on his backpack and go trekking around the Octagon, this guy is going to stand there with me and look for a fight.

“I’m confident that if he does do that, I don’t know some guys have been intimidated by me for some reason, I’ve learned a lot from the last fight and I’ll know how to deal with people who employ them strange tactics in the future.”

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One of the biggest improvements we have seen in Pendred’s game since his arrival in UFC has been with his striking. Famous for his grinding grappling displays under the Cage Warriors banner, Pendred’s evolution has seen him gain a lot of comfort on his feet.

Although he claims he is still not completely content in any area of his game, Pendred is confident that Spencer will give him an opportunity to showcase the growth of his game.

“I’m still not happy where I am with anything in my game, but particularly I’m not happy with my striking game. I’ve looked a bit sloppy, I just haven’t been able to bring in what I’ve been using in the gym.

“I’ve really been working on it so it comes more natural to me. I’m working on being lighter on my feet, I’m working on switching stances to throw more power shots and I’ve been working on some unorthodox stuff. I’m throwing standard Thai kicks and I’m mixing in karate – it think that’s the future of MMA striking.

“It used to be just that Thai style of standing in front of one another, but that more elusive karate style is definitely being employed by a lot of fighters we see at the top of the division. I’m just trying to work on everything.

“This fight could be a great way for me to show how much I’ve evolved, this guy seems very comfortable on his feet. He comes from a boxing background, any wrestling he seems to use is to keep the fight standing. I think this is a great fight to show what I’ve been working on,” he said.

As for 2015, the Dubliner is looking to carve a place out for himself in the UFC rankings and he believes that his comparatively younger years could help him do so.

“I’m hoping for a minimum of three fights and three wins in 2015. I want to get into the top 10 this year. The top ten is packed with guys that are over 30, there are only two guys in the top ten of the welterweight division that are under 30 and I really think that it needs to be shaken up.

“There are a lot of guys pushing on who are in their 30s, we might see some of them call it a day and some of them might be forced to call it a day. I’m 27, I’m up and coming and I’ve got my eyes on them rankings spots,” he claimed.

Finally, Pendred gave his thoughts on how the bout will finish:

“I’m coming out to finish this guy in the first round. I always put a pace on my opponents, but I feel in my first fight in the UFC was at an uncontrollable pace. I threw caution to the wind and ended up getting taken down.

“In my second fight I went right at him, and the guy fuckin’ ran away, this is going to be the Goldilocks and Three Bears fight. The first one was too hot, the second one was too cold and this time it’ll be just right!”

@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.