Recent Analytical Science graduate and Mixed Martial Arts rising star Cathal Pendred (25) is the new Cage Warriors Fighting Championship Welterweight title holder, and is on course to be the second Irish fighter to join the UFC. “The Punisher” (12W-2L) defeated Gael Grimaud in London on March 9th by unanimous decision, ending his opponent’s 8-win streak.
Winning the title was an arduous task, involving an increased calibre of opponents at each stage in his 8 fight unbeaten streak, which included UFC veterans and prospects.
As local as it gets to DCU, Cathal sat his final exam in the Helix on May 24th last year, just 7 days before he thwarted all efforts of UFC’s David Bielkheden in the same spot. Without time for dust to settle on his belt, he has already accepted another fight, another headline event in the helix, another UFC veteran. His CWFC welterweight title defence is against England’s Che Mills on June 1st in the Helix.
Cathal, who garnered an interest in MMA watching UFC events on TV as a teenager, gained his first real experience of the sport while in San Diego upon finishing the Leaving Cert.
“Over there, the sport was huge compared to back home”. Not knowing that there were MMA gyms within Ireland, and having had a heavy and sole involvement in schools rugby, his time in San Diego was his first taster of MMA training. Little did he know, this trip would dictate his future professional career. On returning to Ireland, he became involved in the sport through a local club and rapidly rose through the professional ranks upon joining his current gym, SBG Ireland.
“Rising through the ranks was especially difficult for me due to training, college and working on the weekends.” Often, fights would clash with college deadlines and Cathal struggled to maintain the standards expected of him in both areas. Although he had to focus more on MMA than his studies in training for a fight, approaching exam time he pulled the traditional 13 hour shift in the library. Through graduation and winning the title, his perseverance and dedication paid dividends.
The Cage Warriors promotion is one of Europe’s leading MMA promotions, having hosted regular events from Dublin to Dubai and has been the platform for fighters such as Conor McGregor (Pendred’s sparring partner) to be signed to the UFC.