Cathal Pendred on John Howard: I’m in my prime, he’s on the way out

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Cathal Pendred didn’t waste much time celebrating moving to 4-0 under the UFC banner after claiming a unanimous decision victory over Augusto ‘Dodger’ Montano on June 13.

Straight after the victory the Irish welterweight was in pursuit of a new opponent. First it was Rick Story, then it was Andrew Craig, but finally Pendred wishes to go 5-0 inside one calendar year were made possible as UFC matched him with John Howard for July 11 at the MGM Grand. As the Dubliner explained, he left Mexico feeling like he had gained nothing, therefore the only solution was to get straight back to business.

“I wanted to make an impression against Montano and I felt I was denied the opportunity to do it,” said Pendred. “I got nothing out of that fight. I didn’t make any money off it, it may as well have not happened.

“It wasn’t so much the financial loss that annoyed me, I didn’t get into this sport to make money. I put my life on hold to try and do something that had never been done before. I wanted to stop Montano, nobody had ever done that before. He had 15 wins all by stoppage, 13 of them came in the first round.

“Everything was against me. It was in his hometown, the altitude was against me and the support was against me. The way he fought still baffles me. I don’t know what the hell happened to him. I didn’t make the impression and I wanted to, so I figured I may as well get straight back in there.”

As with Gasan Umalatov before him, Montano went from his usual aggressive self to a reluctant, retreating fighter when he met Pendred. A reoccurring theme in the SBG fighter’s bouts, he tried to make sense of the all too familiar tactic he has been confronted with in the Octagon.

“I feel like it must be something that I do to these guys. You’d think it would be a moral victory in itself that I can do that to these aggressive fighters. I was talking to John about it and he was talking about how it happens to Hector Lombard too. Fighters are afraid to get in tight with him because he has that judo pedigree.

“I’m a very big welterweight, maybe they see my size and they don’t how to deal with. I figure that they just decide to be defensive instead of actually taking the fight to me. It’s frustrating.

“Another thing that plays into it is the fact that I’ve been fighting these fringe guys, guys that aren’t ranked. They’re probably a bit fearful of their jobs more so than the guys who are fighting people at the top of the division. I feel like the ranked guys can go for it a bit more,” he explained.

Although Howard is known as an aggressive fighter, Pendred is reluctant to bank on the Bostonian bringing the fight to him after his recent contest with Montano. Having fought on the same card as ‘Doomsday’ back in January, the Irishman did specifically remember the smaller stature of his July 11 counterpart.

He said: “Sure, I think he’s an aggressive fighter too, but I would have bet my life on Montano coming forward too. Who knows what’s going to happen when I face off with John Howard? I do like the matchup though, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

“I’ve been around him before in Boston. He has a very unique stature for the division. He’s about 5’7’’, he’s really short but he’s really blocky too. Size wise, the most similar person I’ve faced to Howard would be Vlad Malko. He’s a veteran, he’s a good fighter, but I feel like I’m on the up and he’s on the decline. I’m coming into the prime of my career and I feel like he’s on the way out. That’s just the way it is.

“I’m expecting the best version of John Howard, he was preparing for a huge fight against Brandon Thatch. Thatch is a serious fighter, so I have no doubt that Howard was taking his preparation very seriously. I’m sure he’ll be ready to go on July 11.”

Pendred outlined why ending up on the UFC 189 card was an “ideal situation” for him:

“It’s an ideal situation. I didn’t want to push it too much, but I always thought this was the card that made the most sense for me. Nearly half the card is made up of welterweight fights. If there had been an injuries to them guys I felt like I would have been the ideal candidate to step in as a replacement.

“I thought it was likely that I would get onto the card, but I didn’t want to push it because it’s Conor’s night. Conor is the one that’s going to be making history. I didn’t want it to seem like I was trying to jump in on that. Don’t get me wrong though, I would’ve taken anything.

“I pretty much matched myself up with Rick Story, I did the same with Andrew Craig in San Diego. Both of the lads were willing to fight me, but this is the one that came about. I couldn’t be happier.”

Finally with Jose Aldo’s rib injury being report yesterday, Pendred insisted that if UFC were to change McGregor’s opponent for the contest, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Pendred maintained that McGregor is the driving force behind the card and that Aldo’s potential withdrawl wouldn’t effect the night too much.

“This whole card has been about Conor, not Aldo. If you look at all of the promos it’s always just Conor. Aldo doesn’t have great English so if you’ve seen the promos it just shows him looking angry for five seconds.

“Conor sold this whole fight. It might have been an even better build up if the opponent spoke English, I think if it was Mendes or Edgar this fight could’ve sold more from the start. It may even increase the interest in the fight if he gets a new opponent.”

@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.