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16th Jan 2015

UFC’s Fighting Irish head for Boston: What’s on the line for Cathal Pendred?

He'll be looking to fast track his rise through the welterweight ranks

Ben Kiely

The former Cage Warriors champion will be hoping to maintain his unbeaten record in the UFC with a win in Boston

Pendred (15-2-1) tops the event’s prelims with a bout against Sean Spencer (12-3). The Punisher, who was born in Boston, enters into this fight off the back of a split decision victory over Gasan Umalatov in his UFC welterweight debut. The Umalatov contest marked the Dubliner’s highly anticipated follow up to his stunning “back from the dead” submission over juiced-up middleweight Mike King in Dublin.

Spencer defeated Paulo Thiago by way of unanimous decision in his last trip to the Octagon. The Brazilian veteran was released by the promotion shortly after the fight. Thiago was the second fighter Spencer forced out of the promotion after he cost Yuri Villefort his job when he got the split decision in the lion’s den at Fight Night 28.

However, even if he somehow manages to annihilate Pendred on the “I can’t believe it’s not Dublin” card, the Irishman will know that his job will remain secure. Pendred’s 2-0 record inside the Octagon has given himself some breathing room. Also, his sensational UFC debut, which judging by the post-fight presser, massively impressed Dana White should mean that the promotion will be trying to keep him on their books as long as possible.

That is not to say that this is a meaningless fight. In fact, there’s a lot riding on this bout.

Cathal Pendred before the fight 19/7/2014

For Pendred it presents a huge opportunity to increase his profile in the MMA world. While it could be argued that Spencer is nothing more than a promotional gatekeeper, a dominant victory for the Dubliner would do wonders for his status in the 170 lb division. After all, the very purpose of a gatekeeper is to allow the elite fighters to shine.

Pendred didn’t turn any heads with the Umalatov win. To his credit, he did try to force the action more which proved to be challenging against a fighter who seemed reluctant to engage in any sort of a fight, and that ultimately swayed the majority of the judges. Pendred admitted that he learned a lot from the tough bout and the Boston card should provide an adequate platform for him to showcase his new found knowledge.

There are a plethora of benefits to stringing together a couple more wins under the UFC banner. Fights against higher profile fighters, main card slots, more power when it comes to contract negotiations and potentially getting a ranking are all on the horizon for the Dubliner if he can get some more wins under his belt. Getting ranked, in particular, should be a priority, as ranked fighters are set to earn a great deal more sponsorship revenue when the new Reebok deal comes into effect this summer.

The Punisher certainly has the requisite skill set and the right mindset of constantly trying to improve his overall game to make a push for the top 15. Add to this the fact that he is a charismatic, well-spoken fighter, (which are not common traits in the sport) with a loyal fanbase, a lot of which he gained from the Ultimate Fighter and you’ve got a potential star in the making.

The UFC recognised this potential, that’s why they signed him. Now it’s time for the Dubliner to fulfil it and make his mark on the division. Spencer is just another obstacle in his path towards combat sports stardom.