Paul Redmond on UFC debut: I was willing my hands and feet to work but nothing was happening

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As soon as Paul Redmond was announced as a replacement for Alan Omer, stepping in on two weeks’ notice to face Mirsad Bektic on January 24 in Stockholm, the talk began about the gargantuan weight cut the Dubliner would need to undergo make to get down to 145lbs.

On the Friday before the fight, a depleted looking ‘Redser’ took to the scales in the Swedish capital and registered for the Bektic contest at 149lbs. Although he may have been three pounds off the required limit, the cut itself seems miraculous given that the Ryano man shifted over 30 pounds to make his debut at the historic stadium show.

“I think I was 84kg on the Monday and I was thinking to myself that I was getting a little bit heavy for lightweight because I had such a good Christmas,” explained Redmond. “Just for myself then, I thought Cage Warriors might be back around March, so I start getting my weight down for that from the Monday.

“Luckily enough, I had already started back on my clean eating so I was down to about 82.5 by the Thursday and it was on Thursday morning that that we got the call from UFC.”

The Irish submission specialist pulled no punches when describing the weight cut:

“It was the worst two weeks of my life,” he laughed. “I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Here’s a rundown of the whole two weeks. I got the call on the Thursday morning that something might happen, not necessarily in two weeks, but something might happen at featherweight. So I said ‘no problem’.

“I halved my food straight away and cut out any of the other shit that I was eating. I rang Davey (McConkey), my strength and conditioning coach, that evening and we thought of a plan to get me down to 145lbs. It was basically the same scenario that we use to get down to lightweight, just a little more severe. We just took an extra meal away, so instead of four meals a day we had three.

“First thing in the morning I did an hour and a half of running before I did any session. Three or four days in it was like hell on earth, I don’t even know how I got down to 149 – that’s being genuinely honest with you.”

Redmond discussed the diet he had to put himself through to attempt to get down to featherweight, and how he was 25lbs off the target weight when he first arrived in Stockholm three days before the weigh in.

“Before I hooked up with Davey I would do these weird weight cuts to make 70kg. Back then I just ate fish and chicken and cut out all my carbs, then getting closer I would cut down on my water thinking I could dehydrate myself that way. What would happen then was, my weight would start to go back up because my body was holding on to everything, it was not doing what it was supposed to be doing.

“This time it was different. Obviously, you can’t eat red meat when you’re cutting weight so every single meal I had was fish because it’s very easy to digest. I’d have a couple of pieces of broccoli with that and then I could only have some sweet potato directly after training.

“So I was training on no carbs but after training I could have a small amount of carbs because that’s when you’re burning the most. So it was just horrible.

“It was a nightmare because my weight actually went up on two of the days. Usually I always hit a little bit of a plateau around 76kg, it usually stays there for two or three days, this is when I was cutting to lightweight so I’d be on the phone every two minutes to Davey.

“For this cut, it held out on 76kg and then it actually went up to 77kg, then it came back down a little bit. I started my water loading on the Monday and I went back up to 77kg. By the time we got there on Tuesday, again I was water loading all day and I flew from Ireland to Copenhagen and then from Copenhagen to Stockholm. Being on a plane you tend to hold a bit of weight too.

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“When I landed, I got to the venue and the weighed me. I did all the poster signings and then they brought me up stairs and they weighed me, and I was at 170lbs. So I was 25lbs over. So the guy looked at me and said, ‘155, that’s fine, that’s a handy enough cut’, then Seery turned around and said, ‘no, he’s making 145 mate’.

“Your man looked at me as if I had ten heads, so I just said, ‘ah it’s grand I’m after been water loading all day, don’t worry about it’. He seemed happy enough with that but I still had 25lbs to lose.”

When Redmond registered three pounds over the required weight at the official weigh in, many believed the Irishman had just got himself inside the five pound limit given that anything over that could have led to Bektic refusing to take the fight. However, Redmond is adamant that he tried everything he could to get down to the 146lbs mark.

He said: “In my head, anything less than 146lbs was a failure. Hand on heart, I was trying my upmost to make it. Andrew McGahon will tell you, he came in to see us on the very last day before the weight cut. Andrew came down and rolled with me and Seery and I could see him asking Andy Ryan was I going to make. Andy was telling him, ‘ah yeah he’s fine’. I hadn’t even started my sauna or steam room cut at that stage and I still had 15lbs to go.”

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Speaking after Redmond collected his first UFC loss to Bektic, Andy Ryan told Severe MMA’s Andrew McGahon that ‘Redser’ had taken his failed weigh in pretty badly. The Donaghmede man described his feelings after his first attempt at making the weight.

“I know everyone says don’t worry about it just get within five pounds, but for me it’s not like that, we are meant to be professionals. I was talking to Sean Shelby, and obviously they have to sort some things out when someone misses weight, what he said to me on the stage was, ‘don’t eat anything or drink anything’, and I said ‘no problem’.

“I was in an absolute bundle. There was some type of foam and all coming out of my mouth. I could barely stand, Andy was literally holding me up out the back. So when Sean Shelby came down I said to him straight away that I was sorry, that the weight cut was colossal and that it was my fault.

“He said it was great that I came to fight, but that we had told them that we would make the weight too. Then he said ‘don’t worry about it, we’ll figure something out’. They gave the guy the 20 percent of my purse, but they were alright about it. He was right though, I was there to make weight and I didn’t make weight. I really wish I did.”

Redmond went on to describe the fight itself, which turned out to be a one-sided unanimous decision win for Bektic, as one of the “weirdest situations” he had ever been in.

“I swear to God, it was one of the fuckin’ weirdest situations I’ve ever been in,” he exclaimed. “I’m just lying there looking at this guy smashing my head in. I was on bottom and I was willing my hands and feet to work, for anything to work, and nothing was happening. I could hear people in my corner shouting do this or do that, but I just couldn’t.

“I had nothing in there, absolutely nothing. I know everybody was saying, ‘ah look, he didn’t finish you’, but for me, anything but a win won’t do me. I was disgusted with myself. I don’t think people get it – at this level you’re not there to lose.

“They asked me to go in on short notice and I was there to win. I didn’t go there to get beat and then say ‘at least I’m in the door’. I was there to win, it didn’t happen and I was disgusted with myself.”

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Although we have seen people give up in similar positions to Redmond simply rolling over to let their opponent’s finish them, the Dub insisted that he would have never surrendered under Bektic’s stifling pressure.

“There was never a fucking chance of me giving up in there. I’ve never been like that. Even in the Teodorczuk fight, he had me in that choke and I had to be put asleep. I had trained for the fight in Stockholm, two weeks or eight weeks it doesn’t matter, there was no way that I was just going to roll over and let him finish me.

“If I could’ve done more, you know I would’ve done it. I even said it to him after the fight. I said, ‘Listen, I’m sorry I couldn’t give you a better fight’. That’s how I felt. I was in the UFC for the first time, Joe Rogan was there commentating, there were 30,000 people there and we were the first fight to launch the FOX coverage. I wanted to give a good account of myself, and I don’t think that I did.

“All the work that Andy, Neil and Keith Duffy put into me that weekend, I just wanted to pay them back by getting the win. They were unbelievable and I can’t thank them enough. None of this could’ve happened without Andy, but I just wasn’t able to do the business on the night,” he said.

‘Redser’ commented on the changes that he has made having taken some time away from his full time job as a plumber, with the Team Ryano featherweight completely dedicated to his efforts to full-time training now.

He said: “I asked my company for some time off and they gave me it so now I’m changing my approach to this. My nutrition is going to be 100 per cent with this new approach and I’m going to get my weight nice and low. I took a week off so I could have a little blow out with my girlfriend, but this week I’ve attacked it. I’m loving it.”

Finally, Redmond outlined when he would like to return to action with a medical suspension currently in place that will see him side-lined for up to 60 days.

“I’m either on 30 or 60 days suspended with my eye. It’s definitely 30 days and the other 30 is pending on how well it heals up,” he said. “I’m back doing jiu jitsu, I’m doing my full strength and conditioning with Dave McConkey and then I’m running every morning. My training is very good now.

“I’d like to get back in as soon as my body allows it really. As soon as this eye heals up and I have eight weeks under my belt, I’m good to go. I just want to get in there and nullify that loss. I just want to show people that I’m a little bit better than what I showed the other night.”

“A little better?” I asked.

“You know me, I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I think I have a bit more in me than that, you know?”

@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.