“Dublin in the West” many were calling it as the Irish contingent set its sight on Boston’s TD Garden this past weekend headlined by Ireland’s favourite fighting son, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor. Joining him on the card were fellow SBG team mates, Paddy Holohan and Cathal Pendred.
To the main event, and all the talk beforehand was about McGregor’s title shot with current featherweight champion Jose Aldo. Standing in his way this past Sunday night was #10 featherweight Dennis Siver (22-10-1NC).
I think it’s fair to say, that in the build up, Conor McGregor (17-2) and Siver really didn’t see eye to eye and the animosity was ever present right up until fight time when the German kickboxer refused to touch gloves with McGregor and was met with a middle finger which had the Boston crowd at a frenzy.
If the Dubliner felt any pressure going into this contest, he didn’t show it and was as loose as could be expected from a fighter brimming with confidence. Before the fight, McGregor had confidently predicted a two-round stoppage of Siver.
As referee Herb Dean called the fighters to action, it was McGregor who dictated the early pace with spinning back kicks just missing his opponent. From here it was punches in bunches from “the Notorious” as he left visible marks with a handful of crushing right hands to Siver’s left eye.
Siver landed a couple of stiff left jabs but nothing that really troubled McGregor. As the clock ticked down towards McGregor’s 2 minute KO prediction, it was Siver who looked to press forward with a takedown. A scramble from McGregor ensured that he stayed upright and was able to continue on with a furious onslaught that had the German back peddling for much of the first round.
McGregor’s prediction and the round came to a halt as a confident fighter strode his way into the beaming SBG corner led by John Kavanagh.
Round two started much the same as McGregor pushed forward and picked his shots with precision. Another takedown attempt from Siver was to follow but McGregor was able to push his opponent aside and with just over a minute gone in the second round, McGregor landed a clean left punch with grazed Siver’s chin and landed hard onto his stomach.
It spelled the beginning of the end for Siver as McGregor was able to first get into a full mount position and eventually took Siver’s back to land three or four unanswered punches. Referee Herb Dean had clearly seen enough and ended the fight sending the Boston crowd and the travelling Irish fans into raptures.
A buoyant McGregor ran straight to onlooking champion Jose Aldo and had to be held back by arena security. When interviewed by UFC announcer Joe Rogan, McGregor had strong words for Jose Aldo.
“F**k him. F**k Aldo. Tell him to go shine that belt because I’m coming for it.”
This is surely the beginning of many months of build up to the title fight which is provisionally set for May according to Dana White in the post-fight press conference.
Elsewhere on the card, Paddy “The Hooligan” Holohan (11-1) bounced back after receiving his first professional loss to Chris Kelades late last year.
A sterling performance was turned in by the infamous tea lover with an absolute clinic in grappling, ground control and submission techniques.
It was all Holohan from pillar to post as he dominated Shane Howell (13-9) on the ground. Despite numerous rear naked choke attempts and other various submission attempts, Howell was somehow able to fight off the Tallaght native’s impressive and slick submission attempts. Despite a big heart, Howell was unable to really put anything together on the feet or the ground to trouble Holohan who eventually ran out a unanimous decision victor on the night.
The future is certainly bright for Holohan’s flyweight aspirations.
The future is slightly more cloudy for Cathal Pendred (16-2) who took on Sean Spencer (12-4) in a very questionable unanimous decision for the Dubliner.
It’s generally not in this writer’s make up to criticise fighters but rather to question as to what fight these judges could have been possibly watching.
While Pendred is a hometown fighter, it is bizarre that despite being knocked down twice in the first round and being on the back foot for a large portion of the fight that two of the three judges could give a 30-27 score in favour of Pendred who, bar a late kimura attempt in the second round, really didn’t look to get anything going.
From where this fighter was sitting, it looked like Spencer was landing the cleaner punches and putting together some fluid combinations and always pushing forward.
There are certainly question marks over Pendred’s last two performances and one of which has to be whether welterweight is the right division for him?
Cathal will surely learn from this and know that bigger and better things are expected from him.
Overall, another clean sweep for all Irish fighters on the card and with Neil Seery and Paul Redmond in action this weekend, things are certainly hotting up for Irish fight fans.
Shane Saunders, Pundit Arena.