UFC's fighting Irish head for Stockholm: What's on the line for Paul Redmond
The latest Irish fighter to join the UFC faces an undefeated rising star in his promotional debut
The UFC Stockholm prelims open with a featherweight bout that will spark major interest from Irish MMA fans. Dublin's Paul Redmond comes in as a late replacement to throw down with unbeaten prospect Mirsad Bektic.
Redmond (10-4) rose to prominence fighting for European promotion Cage Warriors. The natural lightweight dropped down to 145 lbs to secure this fight and get his foot inside the UFC door. He'll come into this bout extremely confident after completing one of the submissions of 2014 in his last contest. He locked in an outstanding toe-hold to force the tap from Greek fighter Alexis Savvidis at Cage Warriors 70 last August.
Bektic is a highly-touted featherweight who boasts a perfect 8-0 record. He has racked up four KOs and two submissions during his professional career and enters into this one off the back of a majority decision victory over Chas Kelly at UFC on Fox 11. The Scrapper had an untarnished 11-0 record before losing the judges' vote to the youngster.
Redser was a fan favourite at Cage Warriors, holding an impressive 7-1 record in the promotion. Although it was his technical ability that ultimately earned him the call-up to the UFC, his effort was aided by a huge social media campaign to get the powers that be to take note of his talent.
Redmond is an exciting fighter known for his outstanding stand-up and devastating ground game. An impressive statistic about Redser is that three of his four submission victories have come by way of his trusty toe-hold. Bektic won't want to underestimate the Dubliner on the mat as he has been known to pounce on any hint of an opening to lock in a swift submission.
By the same token, Redmond will be more than happy to stand and trade with the American on the feet. His heavy-hands have seen him notch up five KOs and utilises his powerful striking to set up his ground game.
Having penned a four-fight contract with the UFC, Redmond will know that a loss will not mark the end of his tenure with the promotion. Especially considering he had the stones to to take a fight in a division below his natural weight at just a few weeks' notice. However, losing fights can be a slippery slope in this sport. If he goes on a run of consecutive losses he will be staring down the barrel of getting the boot from the UFC head honchos.
On the other hand, a good win, particularly if it's a finish against an opponent of Bektic's quality, will propel him out of obscurity in the UFC and raise his profile significantly.
The Dubliner is likely move back up to lightweight after Stockholm to join comrades Joseph Duffy and Norman Parke in the most populated division in the UFC. His first bout at 155 lbs should provide litmus test to see if the Irishman can hack it on the toughest stage in the sport.