Paddy Holohan: After Conor’s win I know I can be a world champion

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Paddy “The Hooligan” Holohan gets back to action this weekend in Glasgow after bouncing back from the first loss of his professional career with a one-sided decision win over Shane Howell in Boston back in January.

Travelling to Scotland is something that takes away a lot of the headaches for some European fighters who usually have to undergo large journeys to compete. For Holohan, there is an added comfort in being somewhere that is like home in a lot of ways.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been in Glasgow, it’s grand,” said Holohan. “It just feels normal, like it’s any other fight. It makes a huge difference when you don’t have to travel across to the US. The weather, the climate, it’s the same as it is back home. I think I actually live closer to Glasgow than my opponent too. He’s from Birmingham, I think that’s further away anyway. There’s definitely not much in it.

“I love being close to home, being close to my people and not getting asked 10000 questions every time I’m trying to get a cup of tea. It feels a bit more normal over here. Of course, my son is going to be able to come here no problem too. Time zones mess kids up and if we were going to be in the States he could’ve been falling asleep at five in the day.

“Over here, he’ll be in the stadium at 3 o’clock. I’ll be sitting down and having dinner with him that night.”

Holohan has only ever had one goal when it comes to MMA – to be the best in the world. Having seen his teammate and close friend raise gold in the MGM on Saturday night, his determination is as strong as ever.

“That was absolutely unreal. It was something that Ireland needed. A lot of the sports have gone a little bit stale and corrupt to be honest. This is an injection of something new that we need. Hopefully this will have a big knock on effect on the whole sport. In particular I hope it helps the grass roots element of MMA.

“Watching Conor do that was absolutely amazing. That was a dream come true for him and I’m so happy for him. It’s proven that the path that we follow and the training regime that we use are working. It only gets better too, in every single fight it gets a little better.

“It’s a great confidence boost knowing that all I have to do is trust in the system that has been laid out. When you have that, you don’t need anything else. I know if I turn up and I’m willing to put the time in, regardless of all the little things that go wrong, I know I can be a world champion,” he explained.

Holohan turned professional at a time when not many Irish people knew what MMA was. Now, his SBG teammates who are making the transition to the pro ranks may find the financial opportunities a lot better than when ‘The Hooligan’ arrived on the pro scene. However, the Irish flyweight says there are some negatives that come along with SBG’s new pros’ situations as well.

“The new pros like Dylan (Tuke) and James (Gallagher) do have an opportunity to make better money straight off the bat because of all the interest that Conor has brought to the sport. While that’s definitely a good thing, the negative is that I don’t think anybody is going to be willing to fight them.

“It’s going to be tough for them because people are not going to want to fight the guys from SBG anymore. It’s happening already. People need to cop on and come up for air, they need to stop worrying about their little precious records. If that’s what you’re worried about then maybe this isn’t the game for you.

“You’ve got to fight and see what happens, that’s the way it is. You can make it the be all and end all in your head, but it’s not the end of the world. Some guys think that everyone will hate them if they don’t keep winning, but thinking like that will only weaken your performance and your mind.”

Although Holohan has seen his opponent Vaughan Lee around since his arrival, he claimed that there have been no interactions between them.

“I’ve seen him from across the road, I haven’t talked to him or anything like that. None of that matters to me anyway. People can say whatever they want, they can do whatever they want, but when it comes to the fight day all you are is a shape and an idea of something that’s going to come towards me.”

Considering potential outcomes against Lee, the Englishman makes his debut at 125 lbs on the night, Holohan is confident of claiming a finish.

He said: “I think I’m going to be a lot better in the grappling exchanges. I think I’m going to surprise everyone, even myself, in the stand up. I can’t see a position that I can be put into that I don’t have an answer to. I really don’t and I feel like I’m getting better with every fight. I’d like to take his back and choke him, or knock him out.”

@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.