The Monday Aftermath – UFC Boston

Conor McGregor Pendred Kavanagh SBG Holohan

As the die-hard Irish fans burned the midnight oil on home soil, 13,828 people packed into the TD Garden in Boston to see the emerald isle’s favourite MMA son, Conor McGregor, do work. He not only did the work, he did it in style.

Majestic McGregor

On the walk to the cage both McGregor and his opponent Dennis Siver looked good. McGregor was loose and full of movement, Siver was staunch and determined. When asked to touch gloves only McGregor offered his hand before giving the finger to the unmoved German. It was on. Straight out of the gate McGregor set the tone as he took the center of the Octagon and landed a trio of high kicks  Siver, in an attempt to keep the Irishman at bay, constantly lead with his front leg side kick. It didn’t work. The Irishman was just too fast. McGregor quickly got his straight left hand popping – his best shot. Siver tried hard to fight fire with fire but by the time five or more exocet straight lefts were landed he was cut and clearly hurt. To his credit, Siver changed it up and almost got a couple of double leg takedowns but McGregor brilliantly got his hand on the mat and escaped his clutches each time. With just a minute left in the opening round McGregor clearly upped the pace and had his opponent backing up after landing a huge uppercut followed by a massive barrage of strikes. Siver survived. It wasn’t for long more.

McGregor immediately hurt Siver again in the second with a kick to the head before attacking the body with the spinning kick which is synonymous with the German. That softened him up. McGregor brought it hard constantly from that point, landing his jab and kicking high before dropping Siver with a straight left hand to the body. That was almost it. McGregor dived to the floor and kept his cool, quickly transitioning into the mount. Siver’s fight was fought. Seven shots in a row was enough for Herb Dean to step in and stop the fight – giving McGregor his fifth consecutive UFC win.

The fight, as we know, was all about being a stepping stone. After climbing that last hurdle to a title shot McGregor decided to go one further and climbed over the Octagon to go face-to-face with the man he’ll meet next – UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo who was sitting ringside. Neither man flinched as security held them apart before Aldo declined to do an in-ring staredown. “Fuck him anyway.” McGregor told Joe Rogan in the post-fight interview. “I’m going to hand him my spit bucket and tell him to go back and spit shine the belt.” With the fight slated to make place in Las Vegas in the summer this is just the start of what may be the biggest rivalry of the year. Let the fun commence.

7-up For Cowboy

In the co-main, old-foes (but now friends) Donald Cerrone and Benson Henderson faced off in a lightweight clash which ended in a somewhat controversial decision. After fighting just two weeks ago Cerrone got right into the swing of things landing with three shots from the off which were answered with a right hand to the head and another to the leg by Henderson. From there the exchanges heated up with both men swinging hard with punches and landing constantly with leg kicks. Unusually, Cerrone, with being taken down in mind, was losing the leg kick battle in a tight first round.

He came back well in the second, though, landing a hurtful kick to the body which had Henderson briefly backing up. Bendo answered back with a knee to the body but was caught coming away with a kick punch combination from Cowboy. With the fight approaching the last round Cerrone was the first man to get a takedown – it probably sealed him the period with the judges.

As they have been doing all week, the pair embraced at the beginning of the third before going to war. The leg kicks of Henderson were again his biggest weapon either side of a nice left hook from his opponent. An on-target low kick, before changing it up to land a head shot and a knee to the body gave Henderson maybe the best flurry of the fight. But he went to the well once too often as Cerrone caught one high kick and and brought it to the floor momentarily. With time running out, the pair exchanged all sorts of kicks again – the last of which was a flying knee by Cowboy. It was undoubtedly a close fight, with many having Henderson winning, but the judges are the people that matter. All three gave it to Cerrone, two rounds to one. From here, Cowboy, now on a seven fight winning streak, will probably face off against tough Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov for the number one contender spot while Henderson could be forced to move up to welterweight after consecutive losses at 155 lbs.

The Luck Of The Irish

For the other three Irish fighters on the Boston card, it was a mixed night. In his first big step up in UFC opponent, Norman Parke opened the main card against Gleison Tibau. It turned out to be a pretty uneventful bout with a lot of back and forth on the feet. Neither man was able to get much dominance but the power shots were all coming from Tibau in a bout where Parke was clearly the faster but found it hard to get any momentum in his striking or grappling. In the end Parke came up short and gave up the unanimous decision for the first loss of his UFC career.

Immediately preceding that, Cathal Pendred took on Sean Spencer. The Dubliner began well as he got the American to the floor but once he couldn’t keep it there it was trouble. On the feet, Spencer was much the faster and had Pendred badly hurt on his return to Boston. Like he always does, Pendred miraculously recovered and stayed in the fight. The second round saw Spencer open up with his hands more as Pendred’s shots became more and more telegraphed. The Irishman’s only real offensive work was a takedown and kimura attempt in the last minute. The third was probably the closest round of the three as Pendred answered Spencer’s boxing by attacking the legs with kicks and landing a couple of power uppercuts. It seemed Spencer was a certainty for the decision but, in the end, the judges scored the fight unanimously in the favour of Pendred moving him to 3-0 in the UFC in the most controversial of fashions.

The most impressive Irish win on the night, though, was Paddy Holohan. The Jobstown man bounced back brilliantly from his first career loss last time out. Straight out of the gate Holohan wrestled his opponent Shane Howell to the ground and had him back mounted in a flash. To his credit, the American defended extremely well and survived two locked on choke attempts. Again, in the second, Holohan took it south and dominated the whole round. The last period was a little closer as Holohan traded on the feet initially before getting another takedown and attacking with submissions with time running out. The choke didn’t come but the unanimous judges’ decision did. And it gave him every round.

Next week it’s on to Stockholm, Sweden where Team Ryano takes center stage for Irish MMA as Paul Redmond and Neil Seery open up the card headlined by Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson.

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma