The Hot Press Interview: Conor McGregor & Cathal Pendred

If our boxing success at the Olympics set a standard, it’s been taken up with a vengence by Irish practitioners of Mixed Martial Arts – a sport in which two young Irishmen are taking the world by storm. Conor McGregor and Cathal Pendred explain what the excitement is all about...

You may not be familiar with the names, but Conor McGregor and Cathal Pendred are among the most successful sportsmen in Ireland.

As exponents of Mixed Martial Arts, they are currently at the top of the game – and rising. Conor McGregor shot to overnight fame after his recent Ultimate Fighting Championship debut win in Stockholm, where he blew away his opposition in just 67 seconds. His next UFC fight is in Boston on August 1.

On March 9 this year, meanwhile, Pendred defeated Gael Grimaud in a sold-out London HMV Forum head-to-head, to become the Cage Warriors’ Welterweight Champion. His next fight is in the Helix, Dublin on June 1, when he will defend that title against Che Mills, a highly experienced UFC fighter. Pendred is unbeaten in over two years and currently Europe’s best welterweight (77.11kg/ 170lbs). If he can take Mills, he’ll be well on his way to becoming one of UFC’s biggest names and earning multi-million dollar purses.

These two hugely successful MMA fighters are currently strutting their very considerable stuff in this new gladiatorial arena, which incorporates elements of Brazilian jujitsu and shoot wrestling, as well as boxing, kick-boxing, taekwondo, muay Thai and karate. It’s hugely popular, especially in the US, Brazil and Canada.

Here at Hot Press, we thought it was time to find out more about MMA, the growing cult of ‘ground and pound’, its burgeoning popularity in Ireland – and what motivates its leading lights...

CATHAL PENDRED

James O’Brien: How did you start out in MMA?

Cathal Pendred: I was studying Business in DIT and dropped out. I just didn’t like it. My best mate and I moved over to San Diego and were living there for six months. I’d always watched UFC – but never did anything about in Ireland. But in America, I popped into a gym – there’s loads in California – and I absolutely loved it. I returned home, looked more into it on the internet, and there were MMA gyms around Ireland. I had my first amateur fight after about three or four months and did really well.

What prompted you to go professional?

I trained for about a year, and that was when I turned professional. I contacted Straight Blast Gym; John Kavanagh is by far the best coach around and is based there. I was training with him for about three to four months before I had my first pro fight. I’ve been with him ever since.

What’s the money like in MMA?

Money isn’t what motivates me. What motivates me is to be the best. Obviously, getting to the top of the sport there is money involved and I’m excited about that, but it’s not what I’m focused on.

But you could become a millionaire from fighting.

I’m 25 now. I’ll be a millionaire before I’m 30. Getting to the UFC is the next step and that opens up the door for a lot more money. The champion welterweight – per fight, he makes reportedly seven-and-a-half million. When I’m champion I’m sure that will come with it. I’m not getting caught up in the money thing, but I want as much money as I can get out of it. I want €50 million if I can get it!

Do you feel like a rockstar when you walk out?

No, the thing inside me is the competitiveness. I just want to be the best. I know when that happens everyone will know my name. In America at the moment MMA is huge. In Ireland MMA has just started to blow-up. It’s only going to get bigger and the top guys in the sport are going to be huge stars – and I’m going to be one of them.

What makes you so sure?

Irish people have a fighting spirit, we’re a proud nation. I know it’s only going to get bigger and better here.

Is UFC a glamorous sport?

It’s like boxing. At the top end, there’s a fight and then they play some music, if you drink you have a few drinks. They make a night of it and I think that’s why the fans love it. Anyone I know who goes to an MMA for the first time has loved it. I suppose you could call it glamorous.

Are there groupies in and around the sport?

Girls appreciate athletes. MMA is no different to rugby and football. The little spare time that I have to socialise and see people, I see my family and friends who have been there from the start.

You seem to be getting more attention now.

Yeah. I was on the Late Late Show, I was on the cover of Fit magazine, in the Independent, my fights are on TV. I’m trying to stay grounded. George Best, one of the best footballers ever, could have been even better, but he just got caught up with being in the spotlight. I live a clean lifestyle. I drink about four or five times a year. I treat my body like a machine. I only put good stuff into it and I don’t party. That’s the ingredients to get to where I want to go.

How do you get ready for a fight?

I start training for a fight eight weeks out. I start cleaning my diet, cut out chocolate or anything like that. Six weeks out, I go really strict.

What’s the diet like?

I’m on the Paleo diet. There’s no bread or potatoes. I don’t eat rice or chips or anything like that. It’s literally meat and vegetables. It’s different for different people.

Does it piss you off to see people eating chips in front of you knowing you can’t have them?

Sometimes you feel tired after training. You see a plate of chips with some ketchup and you’d give everything to have some. I have to drop a lot of weight. I walk around at about 14 stone and I have to weigh in at 12 stone. Between when I start training for a fight and the weigh-in, I’m two stone less, so it takes a lot of dieting and a lot of training. There’s a bit of a science to it. I take three supplements: protein, fish oils and multi-vitamins. Two weeks out I’m a stone over and then I drop my weight using water loading. I drink 10 litres a day for about four days, then I cut water out. Sometimes you jump in a sauna and sweat out the last few pounds.

MMA is perceived as being a very dangerous sport – what’s your experience?

It’s a combat sport, it’s not ballet. There are injuries but I honestly think it’s safer than sports that aren’t combat sports. I’ve been doing MMA for six years. I played rugby for six years and I got a lot more injuries playing rugby. I haven’t had one serious injury and I’ve been a professional fighter for four years.

Is there any racism in MMA?

It’s a sport for everyone. Martial arts, I feel, gives people such integrity. People are so respectful. I think in sport the more contact there is the more respect people have for each other. You look at football where there’s not as much contact and you see racism, bitching and biting. Look at Suarez – you’d never see that in MMA. You go in and fight a guy for three five-minute rounds and afterwards you hug each other.

Would Suarez make a good MMA fighter?

I think he’d be brutal. I think he’s a scumbag. If he did MMA he might learn a bit of integrity and be a bit more disciplined and he might not do these things. Never in the history of UFC has anyone bitten an opponent. I’ve never seen an incident of racism in MMA. I always have respect for anyone who I fight against.

Are there any gay fighters in UFC?

I’m sure like any sport there are probably homosexuals involved. I don’t know why athletes who are gay are afraid to come out. I think it’s sad: in today’s world no-one should be afraid to come out if they’re homosexual. There’s no openly gay guy in UFC although there is an openly gay female (American Liz Carmouche). I’ve never seen any homophobic attitudes. I’d have no problem training with a gay guy. In MMA it doesn’t matter what country you’re from, what social standing you have, what sexual orientation you have, everyone does the same training and there’s a level of respect between martial artists.

Racism is quite common in other sports...

There has never been any reported cases of racism or abuse of homosexuals in MMA that I can think of. I know that racism exists in other sports where guys are getting paid so much money and going out playing a game a week and acting like 10-year-olds. Homophobic attitudes are disgraceful. Whatever makes someone happy – I don’t know why anyone would have a problem with their sexual orientation. That’s their own choice and their own way of life. If it doesn’t interfere with you... people who have a problem with that are just bigots.

Why do you think Ireland is so good at combat sports?

Even though we’re a small nation, we have a great history and there’s a fighting spirit in the Irish people. I don’t want to get political, but the whole thing of us not wanting to be part of Britain – we stood up for ourselves and because of that we are a republic. It’s a fighting spirit Irish people have and it’s unmatched and it translates well into fighting sports.

Do you bring that sense of nationality into fights?

Absolutely. Now I’m competing on an international stage, I might not be wearing a green shirt. However, I’m representing my country and I’ll be bringing the flag down to the octagon with me every fight. I do it with pride. When I win it’s not for myself, it’s for my country.

What would you say to the Minister for Sport in terms of getting funding into MMA in Ireland?

A lot of people have misconceptions about MMA. They don’t understand that it’s Mixed Martial Arts – they just think that it’s two lads going into a cage to bate the head off each other. I train in multiple different disciplines of martial arts. It’s in-depth and so skilled. So I would ask the Minister and others to look into the sport, see what the competitors have to do, to fight at this level. MMA athletes have to do twice as much training as in other sports, and I know this because I have friends in football and rugby. When I first saw it, I also thought it was mad – but the more you watch it the more you realise that there are really skilled things going on here.

Ethically, when you hit someone, is there anything that goes through your head?

No. At the start you feel weird about it, but in a fight you’re looking to get in and out of there as fast as possible. It’s safer than boxing – in boxing if someone gets knocked down they’re given 10 seconds to recover. I was watching a boxing match and a guy got back up after getting knocked down and he could barely stand. If a guy gets knocked down in MMA the referee will intervene immediately and it’s over. You’re never going to hurt someone badly because the referee is there to stop that.

Do you have to be ruthless?

You can’t be nice: it’s like any combat sport.

Would it bother you to leave a guy in hospital?

Yeah, it would. I’m not in the sport to hurt anyone, I’m in the sport to be the best. I would like to finish a fight without hurting anybody but I know in my head it will be stopped before someone gets hurt badly. In MMA you’re told to protect yourself at all times and if you get hurt you’re out of the fight and you lose.

Do you have any fear going into a fight?

No. The only thing I get is a nervous excitement and the only reason you get that is because you want to perform at your best. I’ve been watching MMA for 10 years and never saw a bad injury. You look at American football, where people are getting stretchered off left, right and centre. Horse riders never get asked these questions, yet horse-riding is probably the most dangerous sport in the world. There are probably more deaths in cheer-leading than in MMA (laughs). MMA statistically is safer than boxing and many other sports. I find boxing a great sport, but I don’t understand if someone accepts boxing, why can’t they accept MMA.

Do you think video games influence people to fight?

I don’t think so. It was more from movies that I got an interest in martial arts. I don’t play video games often. I’d like to be in the UFC game though: it would be a cool thing to say and I know it’s going to happen.

Do you think UFC video games might influence kids negatively?

There are violent games and it might influence people, but that has nothing to do with MMA. Anyone who trains in martial arts is likely to be less violent. I used to never stray away from a fight when I was younger. Since being in MMA, I’ve had zero interest. If on a night out someone comes up to me looking for a fight, I have zero interest.

Would you use your skills outside of a fight?

I have no interest in fighting outside of MMA. Most guys get into a fight because of their ego. They get in a fight because they don’t want to look like a bitch to their friends. Everyone knows what I do, they know what I can do. I have had situations where guys have been doing everything in their power to get into a fight with me. I’ll stand there and say, “no way!” I walk away, my ego is not hurt. People who train in MMA have nothing to prove, there would be less people getting arrested on a Saturday night if there were more people doing MMA.

Are you capable of extreme violence?

It’s a sport which involves violence but I would call ‘extreme violence’ going out and intentionally wanting to inflict pain. That’s not my aim or ambition.

Does your aim not include extreme pain for your opponent?

I wouldn’t compete in this sport if I thought it was brutal and I was going to be sending every opponent to hospital. I’m going out there in a controlled environment, with a referee whose sole responsibility is to make sure that the two fighters aren’t seriously injured. When a referee makes a late call it might be by two punches. There’s never a bad call where someone gets seriously hurt. Referees at the height of the game are trained very well.

Any message to your next opponent?

I’ll look at a few fights of his, but my main focus is me. There’s no point in focusing on things that are out of your control.

There have been highly publiciced cases of boxers involved in domestic violence. Does it exist within MMA too?

I’ve never heard of a domestic violence incident with links to the UFC or MMA. I would never hit a woman. That’s the lowest of the low.

Do have any ideal celebrity girlfriend?

Mila Kunis is pretty hot – hopefully she’s an MMA fan! (laughs).

Is it a myth that abstaining from sex makes you a more aggressive and better fighter?

‘No sex’ is an old-school thing. I definitely don’t stick to it; I’ll be having as much sex as I can (laughs). I’ll have to take that back! I try and stay as relaxed as possible. I’m sure if I didn’t have sex I’d be going in there as a crazy nut-job. I definitely wouldn’t abstain from it.

What are your views on cannabis?

It’s banned in the sport. I don’t smoke. I have to treat my body like a well-oiled machine so I can’t get involved. I tried it when I was younger but I definitely think that alcohol is a more dangerous drug. I have mates who smoke and I have no problem with them smoking or with it being legalised.

What’s your opinion of the scandals involving performance-enhancing drugs?

The guys who get caught with performance-enhancing drugs, I find that a sign of mental weakness. Any combat or fighting sport you have to have strong self-belief and using these drugs you’re already losing the battle. Performance enhancing drugs exist in UFC. I’ve never seen it in Ireland though. Nobody on my team would ever have any interest in that.

In some combat sports, there’s fight-fixing and choreographed contests.

This is a proper competition. There’s no fight-fixing, at all. The only thing comparable in WWE to UFC in is that people hype fights. They sell a fight in a similar way, but it’s not choreographed. I’m fighting on an international stage, I’m moving into the UFC. I’m representing my country with pride. I really see the Irish people getting behind this. I get hundreds of messages and tweets. I just want to say thanks to everyone.

Do have an entrance song?

Yes, ‘Top O’ The Morning To Ya’ by House Of Pain. I like the lyrics to it. ‘Shipping Out To Boston’ is too obvious, it’s overused and overplayed.

How do you relax?

I sit on my bed watching YouTube or listening to music. I relax to Bob Marley and Sinatra. I try to see friends and family as much as possible.

When can we see a UFC fight in Dublin?

UFC are coming back next year to Dublin. I’ll be 100% fighting in that. I’m one of the top fighters in Europe. I have to get through my fight against Che Mills first. My first goal was to win the Cage Wars title on March 9, I did that and the second goal was to make my UFC debut in Boston. I’ve won this fight against Che Mills in my head already. As a fighter you have to have 100% belief. I never think in a negative way.

Are there any grudges in the sport?

People hype fights, they sell fights. There are rivalries. There are guys who you see and you don’t appreciate their attitude. But I’ve never really had a grudge. Most of the guys who get to the top of the game are the guys I see all the time, who are hard-working and disciplined. Most of the time when they’re assholes, they’re actually being assholes on purpose, to sell a fight. A guy I trained with, Josh Koschceck, could be perceived to be a bit of an asshole. He plays up to it and the fans hate him and because of that, he gets paid a lot of money. He rubs them up the wrong way on purpose and so people will pay good money to see him get his ass-kicked.

Is there anyone you really want to defeat?

I want to beat the best guy in the world, George Saint Pierre. I know I’m going to fight for a UFC title but I don’t think he’ll be there when I’m fighting. In recent interviews he’s hinted that he’s been champion for a long time, he’s made a lot of money and I don’t think he wants to fight on. He’s gone a bit Hollywood now: he’s the villain in the Captain America movie!

Are you interested in an acting career?

I’ve always wanted to be in a Guy Richie movie. I also want to get a cameo in Love/Hate in the next year or two.

CONOR McGREGOR

How did you get involved in MMA?

Self-defence has always been in my mind – it’s why most men get into this game, to be able to defend themselves in an unarmed combat situation. I was always the little kid. I wanted to be able to whoop ass and didn’t want no-one to be able to whoop my ass. So that’s how I started doing it.

What’s the next step?

To continue doing what I’m doing. It’s been hard going this past week or two. I haven’t been able to focus 100% on my training which I don’t like – but this is the name of the game, this is what I do. Ya know, I never had money before. I don’t know how to handle it. I’ve gone from being unemployed to being self-employed. Tax and all this kind of shit, I don’t understand it. That has been taking up my time the last week or two – but it’s starting to sort itself out now. My next MMA contest is in Boston on August 17. I’m also going to compete in Brazilian jujitsu – it’s the Nokia European Championships – in June in Rome.

What do you think about the state of the country at the moment?

I never really pay attention to that shit. Some people focus on that. They put all their energy into what’s going wrong with things. That, to me, is giving it energy to grow. I don’t focus on what’s wrong, I focus on what’s right. I focus on what I feel I have. Although I never had money, I always walked around like I had money. You should act the way you want to become and sooner or later you will become that. I read the newspapers and listen to the news sometimes: it’s always down down down, always negative, all about what’s wrong. I don’t care about that stuff. What people should do is pick what they love to do and just do it. I didn’t give a fuck about the recession, I didn’t give a fuck about politicians. I just showed up at the gym and did what I love, broke as a motherfucker, getting the bus around the place and walking everywhere. And now look at me!

Talk to me about training regimes...

I had to take a week out. I had to meet with lawyers and managers, with some of the sharks coming over to take my money. No-one’s going to take my money. But I didn’t have a great week training. When it gets going there’s no stop, twice or three times a day, it’s full-on, there’s no break.

Are there rules that apply in the gym?

There’s no hierarchy, everyone is equal when they step onto the mat. We have all walks of life in here: we get the highest of the social ladder – ya know, all the guys making bread – and we have the broke-ass motherfuckers. It’s all about jujitsu, all about martial arts and trying to grow and learn. You come down to a place like this and you forget about your troubles. Everything in the outside world doesn’t come into play. The gym is an escape for me. Anytime anything good, bad or whatever happens in my life, I come to the gym. Sometimes I come here on my own, Sunday night, 11.30pm, 12am. One time I came here at 2am just to clear my head.

Do you feel like you’re representing Ireland when you fight?

One hundred per cent. I’m leading the pack. It fills me with pride, it’s what I knew I’d do, having that tri-colour in there. It fills me with joy to be representing our country, to show that we can compete with these guys. People always say in combat sports or in martial arts, America is the place to go – you have to move to America to become good. I don’t give a fuck about American wrestling: I don’t do jack shit – I do it all from here, ya know? If you’re in that frame of mind where you think you need to get away, that’s wrong. What you’re looking for is not out there, what you’re looking for is in here (points to heart). Now I’m flying the flag for our country, hopefully bringing in a new era, showing we can do it all over this neck of the woods.

You’ve said you want to be a millionaire...

I don’t want to be a millionaire, I will be a millionaire. If you want something you’re going to be left wanting because that’s the vibe you’re putting out. I want to lose weight, I want to do this, I want to do that – I already have everything. I already felt like a millionaire, strutting around like I had millions even though I had €2 in my pocket. I feel like a world champion, I feel like a king, that’s it. I’m grateful for what I have.

Are you religious at all?

Like most Irish people I was brought up a Catholic. Most guys where I’m from have been to the church twice, for their Confirmation and their Communion – that’s the only time I’ve been in the church really. I am not really anything. I believe in believing.

What’s your ambition?

I’m 24 now. By the time I’m 30, I will be pound for pound the greatest mixed martial artist to grace the world. I feel that’s where I’m heading. Anderson Da Silva is the pound for pound number one middle-weight champion of the world. He’s 38. I believe when I am 30 I’ll be talked about in the same light that he’s talked about now.

Have you ever seen any racism or homophobia in MMA?

No, no, never. Not once. “We’re all one” is what we like to say in this gym. We’re equal. I support everyone.

What’s your message to those who are afraid to come out as gay?

Don’t hide nothing. Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. Don’t care about what other people think. Be yourself: you are what you are.

Have you signed any sponsorship deals?

I’m taking my time. I will endorse a brand that I believe in and I support. I have some good offers coming in. I’ll see what happens and take it from there.

What’s the money like?

If you’re not in the UFC you’re making peanuts. When you get to the UFC, when you ride that train and grind all the way to the top and you get to where I am – then you’re comfortable. I’m happy now. To be honest I haven’t even cashed my cheques – that €60,000 bonus and my fight pay as well. I still have no money (laughs). I’m young, broke and famous is what I like to say, so I’m just staying on the grind. I had no money before, I have no money right now – I have cheques but that’s not cash.

You recently got into a Twitter row with two American UFC fighters.

I don’t have any ill feelings towards anyone. I’m in the business of promoting fights, I’m in the business of getting people talking. I don’t shy away from controversy. I’m going to make people want to see me and then I’m going to go in and I’m going to perform.

Tell me about your diet – you’re known to eat blueberries?

I don’t eat too many. I eat blueberries to cut weight: it helps to keep the body fat down. I eat everything in moderation. Right now I’m enjoying my life, ya know. You wouldn’t catch me in a chipper or in a curry shop or any of those death traps. When I eat, I eat good carbs. Maybe a nice chicken roll. After a fight I have a cappuccino and a cake – that’s kind of like a treat for me.

Are you aware of any risk, when you’re fighting?

There’s risk in everything. Maybe that’s the Irish mentality to focus on what could go wrong, I focus on what could go right. Doing that, I made more money in 67 seconds than people make in a good couple of years full-time. So I don’t focus on what the dangers or the risks are, I just focus on the sport. This is not what people think, just two tough guys getting in a cage: this is dedication, this is martial arts in its purest form. The people who go out looking for trouble are not true martial artists. True martial artists are peaceful.

What about injuries?

You get a few bumps and bruises but it’s a lot safer than it seems. The medical set-up is unparalleled. I have to go through rigorous medical tests before I can even step foot in there. It’s not as dangerous as people think. It’s a noble art.

What about comparisons with boxing?

There is no comparison: this is unarmed combat. There are many ways that a human can move to attack and defend, not just with their hands. Boxing is the sport of fighting with your hands. It’s limited in what you can do. But in my game there are no limits. It’s pure. There is no comparison. But I love all combat sports: karate, taekwondo, jujitsu, wrestling.

Are there groupies in UFC?

Yeah, if you’re successful in anything there’s going to be women. It’s what it is. I have a girlfriend so I don’t think about it, but if a girl asks me to sign her titties, I’m going to sign those bad boys and get on with my day. “It ain’t nothing” as they say in the States.

What’s your take on abstaining from sex before a fight?

I don’t know. I’ve tried it on the day, I’ve tried it a couple of weeks before, I’ve tried both. I didn’t really notice a big difference. If you want to have sex on the day, do what you want to do.

Did you find you were more aggressive when you went without having sex?

This isn’t about being aggressive. The aggressive man ends up expending energy. I’m not an aggressive man, I’m calm in all situations. You should be energy-efficient which is what combat is all about. The person who’s aggressive ends up gassed out in 30 seconds or curled up in a ball. Being tired makes cowards of men.

Have you ever had a fight on the street?

Yeah, I’ve had a few. When I was growing up I was the small guy. People always wanted to start trouble with me. I didn’t get into this to be the tough guy, I got into this so people would leave me alone. When I first started, people wanted to test me, after a while it started to work.

Do you think you are capable of extreme violence?

No, I’m in this game for competition only. If something happened on the street I would use my skills to neutralise the situation. If someone came at me throwing blows, I could neutralise them without hurting them. I could even make them feel well-rested afterwards. I’m not interested in hurting anybody, that is not what martial arts is about.

Is there any guilt at potentially hurting people?

The referee is there for that. If I see the guy is limping and the referee is late, I show true sportsmanship. I’m not going to follow him down. The referee is there, the doctors are there. This sport is highly-regulated. When you get to the UFC, there are two of the highest-trained martial artists stepping into that cage for a lot of money. Yes people take blows, people get knocked out. We both know what we’re getting into. If you get to that level you must love it. If I get the chance to finish it, I will finish it.

What do you think about women’s UFC

I absolutely love it. Again, there are Olympic medalists going at it, dedicating their lives to martial arts, now they have an avenue to go and make some money. I’m all for it. I support anyone on the combat train.

Do you know your next opponent?

The UFC will release it soon. I’m fighting in Boston on August 17 in a 20,000 seater stadium. I’m going to steal the show, do what I always do, walk in there, perform, be creative and look to make that money.

What is your entrance tune for your UFC fights?

Sauf Keita’s ‘Tomorrow’ from the Ali soundtrack. It felt right: it was history being made and I was always a Muhammad Ali fan. I remember watching the documentary years ago and that was the song, like a nice eerie calm entrance – which is what I wanted.

What kind of music do you like?

All kinds. I like some of the old-school classics like Nina Simone and things like that. I like a good Irish song as well, like Sinéad O’Connor – an eerie voice to get ready for battle. I’m open-minded with music.

What’s the secret of your success?

I love it. I have a belief: people tell me I can’t do something, I go and do it better than anyone else. I don’t think about anything else. You could ask me about abortion and I don’t know anything about it, but ask me about defending yourself from the bottom position and we could talk into next week. I’m dedicated about what I do.

Should cannabis be legalised?

I don’t take it. It’s illegal in my sport but I heard there’s an appeal going in from the head of the Nevada State Athletic Association. Maybe in a few years it will be legal in the sport for people with medical conditions. I don’t take it and it means nothing to me.

What about it being legalised in Ireland then?

Tobacco is legal, alcohol is legal. I’d imagine the guy who is drinking all day and is rowdy is a lot worse than a lazy little stoner guy that’s happy and chilled. However don’t let me see this article saying “Conor puts his case to advocate drugs” because that’s not the case. If it’s legal it’s legal, if it’s not, it’s not. I don’t think too much about it – I’m focused on other things.

Does it take a level of courage to do what you do?

It takes courage to do any sport and it takes a different kind of courage to do combat sports. This sport is important. It gives focus to young men. It gets them away from bad things – there were a lot of bad things happening where I grew up in Crumlin. Martial arts gets you in good mental shape to deal with the bad world.

What would you say to the Minister for Sport, in terms of getting funding into MMA?

I never had no funding from no-one. Amateur boxers get a wage from the sports council. Give me all that sports council money – I’ll take it. I would say, “Support these men and young boys who are dedicating their lives to martial arts.” If they do they do, if they don’t they don’t. It’s not what we do this for.

 

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Game on! Conor McGregor Vs Floyd Mayweather Fight Is Confirmed

"The impossible deal is now done," said UFC president Dana White when announcing the long-mooted fight between the retired professional boxing champ and the Irish Mixed martial arts superstar.

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Conor McGregor Insists: "I'm not a celebrity. I break people's faces for money!"

He might be one of the biggest sports stars on the planet, but the UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor has dismissed the notion that he's an A-list Celeb, bluntly saying: "I'm not a celebrity. I break people's faces for money and bounce!"

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Conor McGregor responds to Game of Thrones cameo rumours

Conor McGregor has shut down rumours that he will make a cameo appearance on Game of Thrones, stating that he he's not trying to be in show business.

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Conor McGregor to star in Game of Thrones

UFC fighter Conor McGregor is the latest name lined up to star in the HBO fantasy drama.

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The Black Donnellys provide Conor McGregor anthem 'Notorious' to UFC

The Las Vegas-based band will soundtrack build-up to Nate Diaz battle at UFC 202

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Watch: Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz 1

You can watch the full first fight for free before UFC 202

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Watch: Conor McGregor On Nate Diaz - "The Boy Won The Lottery"

Mystic Mac looks sterner than ever as he delivers a video message to the only man to beat him in the UFC

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UFC announces broadcast deal, will be available on eir Sport

The service formerly known as Setanta will continue to bring the sport to Irish fans – which is bad news for Virgin Media customers

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Conor McGregor Makes Forbes 100

The Irishman enters the prestigious list for the first time

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Conor McGregor Back On UFC 200

The Irishman returns, "Baby we done it, break out the red panties!"

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Conor McGregor Breaks His Silence

Read the full Facebook post from the Notorious one

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Conor McGregor Shatters Twitter Record

The Dubliner has beaten the retweet record set by Kobe Bryant

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Conor McGregor's Rocky Relationship With Dana White & UFC

After the shocking announcement that the Irishman is finished with the fight game, what's Conor's next move?

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Watch: Conor McGregor Talks To Conan O'Brien

At one stage, the TV host had to beg Mystic Mac not to actually hit him during a kick demonstration

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McGregor vs Diaz UFC 196 Embedded Episode 1

The Dubliner faces the UFC veteran this weekend

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It's On! Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz at UFC 196

Forget moving up one weight class, the Notorious one is skipping all the way up to the 170 division

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Conor McGregor's involvement at UFC 196 in jeopardy

It is being reported that Rafael dos Anjos has pulled out of the lightweight bout due to take place on March 5th in Las Vegas

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Watch: Conor McGregor & Rafael Dos Anjos Press Conference.

As the build-up starts in earnest to UFC 197 the press conference with the two main protaganists as well as that of Woman's Title Fighters Holly Holm & Miesha Tate is here.

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Conor McGregor could land on our €1 coin

A petition put to the Oireachtas calls for UFC Champ's head to be tails

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It's Official: Conor McGregor Vs Rafael Dos Anjos At UFC 197

The Brazilian champ has just won the 'Red Panty' lottery.

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Dana White opens door for Conor McGregor to become two-weight champion

There's still nothing definite, but the Irishman is edging closer to making UFC history

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Conor McGregor Wins Fighter & Knockout Of The Year

With three knockouts, and two record breaking events in Las Vegas to his credit, it's fair to say that the past 12 months have been pretty sweet for the Notorious One, writes Ed Murphy.

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Hollywood stardom looms for Conor McGregor

The Irish UFC champ may be starring in the new XXX film with Vin Deisel - and no this is not a pornographic feature

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Conor McGregor is the new undisputed UFC Featherweight Champion of the World

The Crumlin native KO'd Jose Aldo in a matter of seconds.

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WATCH: The countdown to Conor McGregor v Jose Aldo is on

It might only be Monday morning, but there's more than a few of the HP Tower crew already focused on Saturday night

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Watch: Conor McGregor on Jimmy Kimmel

"It's an out of body experience beating people up for money."

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Conor McGregor has his date with Jose Aldo

They'll enter the octagon later this year.

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Conor McGregor confirms Sinead O'Connor will sing live at UFC 189

The Notorious will arrive to the octagon to a live rendition of 'Foggy Dew'

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Conor McGregor gets celebs all a-twitter

Niall Horan, Jamie Heaslip and Arnold Schwarzenegger among those thrilled by UFC's hottest property

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Three new production projects for Motive Television

The IFTA-winning, Dublin-based production company has announced that it is producing three new projects.

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Hot Press steps inside the world of MMA

We recently caught up with Irish fighters Conor McGregor and Cathal Pendred to discuss the rise of this highly-skilled sport...

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