Sport MMA

Monday 19 February 2018

Unperturbed Paddy Holohan warns Louis Smolka he's entering 'hostile territory' at UFC Dublin

Paddy Holohan
Paddy Holohan

Tom Rooney

Paddy Holohan believes that now his flyweight bout with Louis Smolka is elevated to the main event of UFC Fight Night 76 in the 3Arena on Saturday night, it has finally been granted the status it initially warranted.

The promotion’s highly-anticipated return to Dublin was dealt a significant blow last night as it emerged that a mild concussion would prevent lightweight Joseph Duffy from facing Dustin Poirier in a five round headlining match-up.

Naturally, the news was not well received, particularly in light of the fact that original co-main event, between heavyweights Stipe Miocic and Ben Rothwell, had also been scrapped due to an injury to the former.

That unfortunate omission had seen Holohan’s fight with Smolka plucked from the preliminary card and slotted in as a replacement. The Tallaght native’s massive popularity among the diehards saw his fifth promotional appearance then dubbed as the ‘People’s Main Event.’

The 27-year-old cut a confident figure as a deluge of photographers swarmed him when he entered the 3Arena for the UFC’s media event and, if he’s been unsettled by the chopping and changing to his place on the billing, it wasn’t evident.

In fact, it was his girlfriend who informed that he would headline a card in the city of his birth, because he was sleeping when the news broke. This is all the more striking given that Holohan is yet to feature on a main card, let alone in a marquee bout.

“I just laughed,” he said. “At the end of the day, the lights don’t go on after my fight now; that’s means nothing to me. That was the situation yesterday, and that was the situation before.

“It doesn’t really matter if it’s at 5 o’clock, 10 o’clock, it’s in my time zone. If it’s away in a different country and these things start shifting around, that’s when it matters. I can stay in bed, catch the second bus and go and fight three five minute rounds in front of 10,000 people singing Olé.”

Instead, he was happy to focus on how far he’s come since making his debut with the world’s premier MMA organisation at the corresponding show last July in the then 02 Arena.

His was the first bout of the night, and provided those in attendance with a stunning opening by submitting Josh Sampo in the first round.

In his next outing he was handed the first loss of his career by Chris Kelades, but bounced back with unanimous decision victories over Shane Howell and Vaughan Lee.

For him, Saturday represents a tangible progression in his career, and he plans to demonstrate that by dominating Hawaii’s Smolka.

“I’ve heard this from the start (People’s Main Event), and I think it kind of speaks for itself. It could have been that way from the start and I would have had more say in how it went, he said.

“I walked in first the last time and that was a main event atmosphere. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another flyweight bout, even title events, that have had the atmosphere I had the first time. And I went out and I delivered.

“I have one loss in between this journey in 15 months, and I’ve been working hard. I haven’t turned down no fights, I haven’t turned away from anybody.  I have took everything they’ve sent my way, I’ve fought with injuries, had camps with injuries and I’m still here.

“I’ve never met a man that’s walked into my gym that’s put me in a position I’ve been uncomfortable with. If Louis thinks he’s going come over and show me something I’ve never seen before; I’m going to show him something he’s never seen before.”

“This is hostile territory because he’s coming somewhere where somebody’s absolutely loved because I’m one of them. I’m one of the people sitting in the crowd, I just so happened to make it to the highest point of my career,” he said.

For those fans considering seeking refunds on their tickets in light of the event’s decimation, the Team SBG export urged them not to, and to instead lend support to the four remaining Irish fighters on the card.

"If you want to back and take a refund and not join this night, I suggest you don’t. I suggest you go out and support your countrymen. It’s not just me, it’s not just an Irish main event. We have Aisling (Daly), Neill (Seery), Norman Parke and Cathal Pendred. This is something we’ve built in Ireland,” he said.

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