Cathal Pendred on ‘Dodger’ Montano: “I can make this a nasty night for him”

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As announced last night, Cathal Pendred will compete for the fourth time in a year when he takes on Mexican fan favourite Augusto ‘Dodger’ Montano at UFC 188 on June 13 in his hometown of Mexico City.

Mexico becomes the fourth country the Dubliner has been called to in as many UFC outings when he takes to the Octagon in the Mexico City Arena, something the former Cage Warriors champion embraces.

“I’m delighted with it,” said Pendred. “One of the perks of the job is getting to travel around like this, I get to see all these cool places. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Travelling last weekend to Wolverhampton with close friend and team mate Chris Fields, Pendred spoke about how hard it was seeing Fields, one of the best loved MMA proponents in the country, fall to Cheick Kone knowing how hard the middleweight had worked in preparation for the bout.

“It was one of the hardest situations I’ve ever been in, it’s always hard when someone loses in this game. You know when someone loses there is nothing you can say to make that person feel better. I was racking my brain for something to say to make him feel better, but there was nothing, you know?

“That’s the thing about this game – the highs are so high, but the lows are very low. That’s what makes the sport exciting, it’s just so cut throat like that. So much goes into just one bout. Most of the time there is about three months preparation and then you get 15 minutes come fight night to put on a show.

“In this case, Chris had been preparing for a fight for six months or more. He was in the best shape he had ever been in and technically he was better than he has ever been. Unfortunately things went the way they did and it had nothing to do with being prepared or not.

“When you take a shot like that you’re going down – that guy was a heavy hitter. It was tough to watch, everybody knows how close we are, it was hard to see. I know he’ll bounce back because he’s just so mentally strong. He’ll be back and I’m already looking forward to that,” he said.

Pendred took his unbeaten UFC record to 3-0 in January with a win over Sean Spencer, but the decision was criticised by some fans that felt the nod should have gone in Spencer’s direction afterwards.

Although the Irish welterweight doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of fans and analysts, he certainly feels like he hasn’t performed to his own standards under the UFC banner in his last couple of tests.

“I’ve been disappointed with my last few performances, it never really bothers me what other people think, I only care about the standards I set for myself. I don’t mind if people are giving out because they expect more from me, if that’s the case I think it’s a good thing.

“At the end of the day I only worry about what I think myself. I really think that I haven’t shown the best of my ability in the UFC, for whatever reason, I honestly couldn’t tell you.

“I’ve just been back and forth with my sports psychologist since the (Montano) matchup was announced. One thing that he pointed out is that I’ve nearly looked too relaxed in my last couple of fights. It’s something I’ve been focusing on because a lot of fighters get to the UFC and they build it up.

“It’s every fighters dream to get there, they start off this career and it’s all about UFC and getting to that point. A lot of people get there and because it’s such a big deal in their heads they just become overwhelmed by the moment.

“I’ve been making sure I’ve been very relaxed about it all the time. I always reiterate to myself that it’s the same kind of deal as all of the fights I’ve had before. I think it’s a possibility that I’m nearly too relaxed.

“Ever since the lead up to my UFC debut, my preparation has always been geared towards being really calm in the moment. I do like to be relaxed but if you look back through my whole career, I’ve always brought intensity and pressure to my fights and that’s what I feel I’ve been missing in my last few fights,” he explained.

Pendred has enjoyed big ovations in his three UFC tests so far, most notably in Dublin and Boston. Going into UFC 188 the John Kavanagh charge is looking forward to the reaction of the Mexican crowd as he takes on one of the nation’s top fighters.

“100 per cent I’m really looking forward to it actually,” he laughed. “I made my debut in Dublin, it was an amazing experience and I loved it. Boston kind of felt like I was a hometown guy as well, but I know for a fact that my opponent was booed when he walked out in Dublin.

“I know there’s nothing personal in that, it’s just this tribal thing. If Manchester United are playing Liverpool, the fans are all shouting at each other but there’s no point in getting worked up about it. It’s just the way it is. It’s a part of all sport and that’s why people love sport.

“I know it sounds kind of stupid but I’m really looking forward to hearing the crowd. There’s nothing to be taken personally from it. Look at Dustin Poirier, he was completely the opposite end of that against Conor.

“He freaked out in Vegas. I know he wasn’t expecting that many Irish on the night, but he took it way too seriously and started screaming at the fans and stuff. It’s only going to work against you when you let it get into your head like that. I’m just going to go with the flow and make the most of it.

“You won’t see me over there screaming at the Mexicans, I don’t think that would be a good idea in Mexico City anyway,” he joked. “I’m going to enjoy it, it’s a once in a lifetime experience. Not many people get to go down to Mexico and fight a Mexican guy and have 21,000 people screaming abuse at them.”

Speaking of his opponent, ‘Dodger’ Montano, Pendred believes that the TUF Latin America cast member has never fought anyone like him, which should play to his advantage when the lights go down in Mexico City.

“I watched his fights and one of the things I’ve highlighted is that he just hasn’t fought the calibre of guys that I have. You look through his record, you look at the records of the guys he fought, he’s really only fought one good guy and that’s the guy he lost to – Sam Alvey.

“All the other guys are nobodies with here and there records. He never fought anyone of my calibre either, and that’s the most important thing. He’s never had someone as stubborn or as in your face as me, and I think he will struggle because I can make this a nasty night for him.

“I think this guy does well when people curl up and put themselves in bad positions. They try and get out of their bad situations and that’s when he likes to pounce, that’s where he’s best.

“I’m never afraid of bad situations, you’ll never see me give up anything. I think this is going to be completely new for him,” said Pendred.

Finally, Pendred outlined how he hopes that a win in Mexico City will put him in line to face someone in the UFC’s top 15 ranks.

“I really want a top 15 guy in UFC after this,” claimed Pendred. “I’ll be 4-0 with UFC in less than a year. I think if I go over to Mexico and beat a Mexican guy I’ll deserve that. I think the most important thing, especially after my last performance, is putting on a good show this time.

“It’s been frustrating for me. I don’t think I’ve shown the best Cathal Pendred in the Octagon yet. I really want to get him out there. I’m going to go old school on this guy. I’m going to take him down and put some hurt him. I’m going to take his will away.

“I have seen it in my opponents eyes before, they just don’t want to be in there, but I haven’t been able to do it my last couple of fights. I want to get back to doing it and I’ve been working on a lot of different things.

“In my last fight I worked a lot on my striking, I was going in against a striker and I wanted to show people that. I spent a lot of time on it and I just didn’t get to show all of them improvements.

“When I got in there I was only thinking about my next move. This is a chess game, I should’ve been thinking about what he was going to do next, that’s why I ended up eating big shots that I shouldn’t have.

“It would’ve made it a lot cleaner if I was just landing and not eating any of his shots. Look, I’d rather be disappointed in victory than satisfied in defeat though, so there is no point in dwelling on it. Things will be different this time around.”

@PetesyCarroll

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