Saturday 24 March 2018

‘I’m not taking a backwards step’ - Paul Redmond out for UFC redemption in Glasgow

Fergus Ryan

Fergus Ryan

Paul Redmond realised his one of his sporting ambitions when he made his UFC debut in Stockholm, Sweden in January but the experience was a bitter sweet affair.

The event was a big deal. It was the largest European UFC event and the second most attended anywhere in the world with almost 30,000 MMA fans showing up. The main card was aired on the FOX network in the US. His Team Ryano team mate and friend Neil Seery was also fighting on the card. However, due to the short notice he received, preparation was minimal and Paul lost a lob-sided three rounder against a real prospect in Mirsad Bektic.

In addition to a reduced amount of time (just over two weeks) to prepare Paul was also making his featherweight (66kgs/145lbs) debut. Normally, a lightweight (70kgs/155lbs), Redmond had been considering a move to featherweight for some time. Its typically not a good career move to say ‘no’ to the UFC when the fight in a lighter weight category was offered, the Team Ryano change jumped at the opportunity.

Naturally, all the positive feelings about being a contracted UFC were overshadowed by the disappointment of a loss. What bothered Paul more was the manner of defeat. Normally a high energy, go forward fighter ‘Redser’ was running on an empty gas tank after the punishing weight cut.

Having missed weight and lost the fight, is there any positives he can take from the experience?

“I know that I can take a punch on the ground” joked Redmond.

He went on to explain his genuine disappointment – “I was sick I couldn’t put on a better performance for everyone, to come away like that, not making weight and I was disgusted with myself not being able to put on a better showing; that got to me a lot.”

He explained further that once he accepted the fight on two and half weeks’ notice all the remaining time as spent on making the weight as opposed to game planning - “I wasn’t training for technique or training for an opponent it was all weight related… get the weight down… get the weight down, get the weight down”.

Paul explained that your ability to make weight starts weeks before you stand on the scale. As a lightweight he would have begun dieting from a ‘walking around’ weight of 82kgs or nearly 13 stone. He would have needed to get down to 70kgs or just over 11 stone.

Now as featherweight he needs to get to 66kgs, less than ten and a half stone.

So, how is he going to do it? It’s pretty simple as he explains – “Look, there’s not much too it. You eat a bit less, cut the portions sizes a small bit, clean everything up, no cheat meals… and just go 100% for eight weeks, it is what it is, you’re in the UFC just need to be professional about it.”

Redser’s 15th professional fight was his UFC debut in Sweden and only his second loss in over two years. He faces a tough Scottish fighter in Robert Whiteford, who has only lost twice in thirteen professional fights. Whiteford debuted in the UFC in 2013 and has a 1-1 with the world’s largest MMA promotion.

A judo black belt, Whiteford is strong in the stand-up areas and will look to draw Redmond into a Muay Thai clinch with a view to executing takedowns and landing strikes.

Having a full training camp to prepare Redmond is working on all aspects of his MMA game. As it turns out Redmond has been training in aspects where Whiteford is strong but not necessarily because of his opponent.

Team Ryano is graced with a number of high level judo black belts. Head coach Andy Ryan, a 4th degree judo black belt and a BJJ black belt, makes sure clinch work and grappling feature regularly in his fight team workouts.

“I work the clinch and wrestling a lot anyway and once we heard who it was for the fight I just stepped it up a bit… We know what to expect from Rob, he’s strong and good in the clinch, he’s got power in both hands so it’s gonna be a tough fight” the UFC featherweight told us.

Redmond is keen to return to the form and fighting style that made him a fan favourite during his days at Cage Warriors.

Like his approach to cutting weight, his game plan is pretty simple too – “I’m going out there to give a 100% as usual. It will be fast paced and I’m gonna keep that sort of pressure that I always give from the start. It’s gonna be 100% from the get go. I won’t be taking a backwards step.”

With all the negative attention the recent Reebok sponsorship deal has attracted, Redmond is one of the few fighters to voice his delight at the deal.

While fighters are now prohibited from arranging their own individual sponsorship deals with brands, this is only really an issue for higher profile fighters. While money is important is not a driving factor for Redmond at this stage.

First and foremost a ‘W’ is what the Donaghmede man is after – “I’m here for a win… I’m not here to go out and lose, get a fight of the night bonus for losing and come away with €50,000. Fifty grand will burn a hole in your pocket and a loss stays on your record forever.”

Paul is set to make a guaranteed €2,500 from Reebok for his first five UFC fights, which he is delighted with – “It suits me and the lower tier guys or entry level guys down to the ground. Sponsors aren’t jumping on guys with one or two UFC fights. So it (the Reebok money) helps us guys out where we can just fund it back into training.”

Paul Redmond vs Robert Whiteford takes place at UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs. Leites (also known as UFC Fight Night 72) on July 18, 2015 at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland.

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