DUBLIN, Ireland — After a somewhat lacklustre season of The Ultimate Fighter culminated on July 6 with Eddie Gordon being crowned the middleweight winner, fight fans were left wondering: what if the judges had given pre-show favourite Cathal Pendred the split decision victory many felt he earned against Gordon in the semifinals. Would Pendred have won the show?
While many fighters would lament in the heartbreak that is a controversial decision, Pendred didn’t because the eternal optimist knew it could potentially lead to him making his UFC debut when the promotion returned to his home town of Dublin.
Pendred (13-2-1) a former rugby player and winner of the prestigious Leinster Senior Cup began his mixed martial arts journey when he was 19. When Pendred made the jump from rugby to MMA the addiction was instantaneous and he left behind a potentially promising and lucrative professional sporting career. Teammates from his Belvedere College days include Irish rugby team star Cian Healy, but for Pendred the lure of the cage was too captivating to resist. In a sport like rugby, you rely on teammates, but in MMA you’re solely responsible for your own success and failure.
Pendred eventually began training at SBG Ireland and like so many burgeoning athletes before him, Pendred found himself enamoured by the tutelage of coach John Kavanagh. He rapidly began dominating fighters on the regional circuit, earning the moniker of “The Punisher” because of the dominance he showcased on regular basis. When many think of Irish fighters they assume they’re strong point is striking as the nation has a storied history in boxing, but Pendred’s main skill is his relentless grappling game — more specifically his double-leg takedown, a skill influenced by his days in rugby.
As a professional, Pendred’s rapid ascent through the European circuit has been nothing short of amazing. His early outings were impressive, but he suffered a pair of disappointing losses to Ronan McKay and Lee Chadwick. However, through that adversity his winning mentality was forged. After winning the Cage Contender title, Pendred ventured into Europe’s premier martial arts organization when he joined Cage Warriors and it was with that promotion Pendred really came into his own.