Tomorrow, in Mexico City, UFC 188 will kick off with a solid card featuring the heavyweight title fight fans have been waiting almost two years for. If you look past the main card, the FS1 and Fight Pass prelims have some intriguing match-ups also, providing combat entertainment for even the most finicky critic.
Among the bouts on the Fight Pass portion is a fight featuring Irish welterweight sensation, Cathal Pendred and Mexican striker extraordinaire, Augusto Montano. Pendred has been in Mexico for the last several weeks, conducting his training camp there, as well as making the media rounds for Saturday night's highly anticipated card.
Yesterday, the Three Amigos Podcast caught up with Cathal to discuss a variety of topics including the costliness of this training camp, the advantages of training with John Kavanagh, being the underdog and how a battle with a maid and a Hoover vaccum cleaner almost wrecked our interview, in part 1 of this two-part feature. Here's what he had to say:
Cost of camp
Three Amigos Podcast: You came out to Mexico very early for this fight to be as prepared as possible, and you said the cost of your camp would probably be about the same as your purse. Give your reasoning behind taking that risk.
Cathal Pendred: That's just how seriously I take my job and each fight. I treat each fight as if I'm fighting for a world title. I was out here in April for the press tour and I did a bit of training with Gil Melendez on one of the nights and felt the effects of the altitude. I didn't want that to play any factor in the fight so I did a bit of research into it.
I have a science degree and I'm very analytical about my approach to everything. I looked it up and most of the good research said that it takes approximately a month to adapt to a high altitude, so I said I'd give myself a bit of extra time, take some extra precaution, and I came out 6 weeks before the fight.
Three Amigos Podcast: Can you give us some insight into the two to three major components of a camp which are the most costly?
Cathal Pendred: For this camp in particular, which was very, very costly, I had to pay for a house for all of my team to stay in. I have to pay for flights for guys to come across and the food expenses and stuff for the guys who came across. Some of the guys who came over aren't in the UFC, and as we know fighters not in the UFC aren't making much money, so they have to be helped out if they're being taken away from home.
A lot of money was spent on this camp; more than I would have liked, but that's just the hand that was dealt, so I dealt with it as best I could. I'm looking forward to the next one being in Ireland, hopefully, and not costing me as much.
TRAINING FOR THE FIGHT
Three Amigos Podcast: Have you had a chance to train with Conor McGregor for this fight, or have the camps not overlapped due to your training in Mexico?
Cathal Pendred: No, unfortunately I haven't. He already had his camp planned in Vegas, and my plan originally was to go to Vegas and do my camp alongside him and just come down to Mexico a couple of weeks before the fight. After the press tour I realized I need to get down here sooner, though, and his camp had already been organized.
The gym (SBG) split up into two. Luckily we're two weight classes apart, so there wasn't any clash with training partners or anything. The bigger guys came with me and the featherweights and lightweights went with Conor.
John Kavanagh, my coach, was with Conor for the first couple of weeks of his camp and he's been down here in Mexico with me for the last month. He'll be leaving the day after the fight to go back to the Vegas camp with Conor and it's worked out really well. It's been great. SBG abroad this summer has been working out well.
Three Amigos Podcast: What kind of a difference does it make having a guy like Kavanagh in your corner?
Cathal Pendred: It's amazing. You can see the difference in John's approach even just by looking at him cornering his fighters. I sometimes watch UFC events and see corners screaming instructions at a fighter in between rounds, and I don't understand how they can think that's going to work or how you're going to get your message across by screaming and cursing and slapping your fighter.
If you ever look at John's approach in the corner he talks really slowly and calmly to calm you down just with the way he's talking. He gives precise, simple instructions, which is the important thing and he gets his message across. He's like that in the gym as well. There's never any screaming going on.
He's such a tactician. One of the things he often talks about is how he would have become a maths teacher. He has an engineering degree himself and his approach to coaching is quite like that of a good math teacher. He breaks down big, complex problems into small, simple steps. That's his approach to MMA and Jiu-Jitsu and you can see the benefits of that from all of his fighters.
Three Amigos Podcast: Do you watch much tape on your opponents, or do you have coaches who do that for you, or do you focus solely on your own gameplan?
Cathal Pendred: I'll generally look at one or two fights. It's not so much to look for techniques or see exactly what he does, it's more to get a feel for the fighter. Generally there's one thing that's consistent with fighters when you look throughout their fights, and that's the tempo they bring to a fight; some of them are really slow and methodical, and some of them come out with crazy aggressiveness, which my opponent on Saturday night definitely does. That's something I look for.
I don't over-analyze my opponents. If you look at my last fight and compare it to this fight on Saturday, I'll look completely different. It's not like football where we compete week in, week out. We compete every 3-4 months, and in that time you can become a completely different fighter, so I never expect to see the same fighter someone was in their last fight.
Three Amigos Podcast: When you and Conor have camps that overlap, what's the gym like over there at SBG? Are you guys just in straight kill-mode all the time?
Cathal Pendred: Our gym is quite different from a lot of gyms I've visited. It's like a learning environment. I've described it before as like a university. It's like the University of MMA and John Kavanagh is the professor. We go in there and most of the time we're just learning. The only two really physically hard days are sparring once a week and positional sparring once a week, which is work on the fence on the ground in different positions. Other than that it's a very relaxed environment that focuses on technique.
FIGHT AGAINST AUGUSTO MONTANO
Three Amigos Podcast: Could you give us some insight into your opponent this weekend, Augusto Montano, and where you feel you'll be able to capitalize?
Cathal Pendred: I saw his UFC debut and I looked into his record and he's a good test. He's an aggressive, big, strong welterweight and he comes out from the get-go. There's no feeling out process with him and that's something I'm excited about. In terms of weaknesses and where I see myself as being better than him? I see myself having a better all-around game everywhere. I train with a higher calibre of guys, I've fought against higher calibre competition and I just believe I'm the higher calibre fighter. I just have to go out and show that on Saturday night, and that's exactly what I plan on doing.
Three Amigos Podcast: Something that surprised me is that several sites have you as the underdog for this fight. Do you like playing the underdog role, or do you find it offensive that people are underestimating you?
Cathal Pendred: It doesn't bother me at all. I get a great kick out of it sometimes. I would say that for 90% of my fights throughout my career I've been the underdog, even before I was in the UFC. It makes no odds to me. It doesn't hurt me. The only people it hurts is the bookies at the end of the day, because I know a lot of people throw money on me. I don't take offense to it at all.
**********At this point Cathal cuts in and out. In between the static we hear him call out ‘I don't know what to do, there's a Hoover coming my way!' About 30 seconds later he comes back saying ‘I told the cleaner to feck off.' Hilarity ensues.**********
Part 2 of this interview will be up at Noon EST today.
You can listen to this interview by going to the 01:18 minute mark of the latest episode of the Three Amigos Podcast.