Q&A: We chat to UFC's Paddy Holohan about MMA, boxing and GAA

Q&A: We chat to UFC's Paddy Holohan about MMA, boxing and GAA

FOR A Mixed Martial Arts fighter nicknamed 'The Hooligan', Paddy Holohan is far from the intimidating character he could quite easily be perceived as.

Holohan is one of is one of eight Irishmen signed up by the UFC, the premier event organisers in MMA, which is Ireland's fastest growing sport right now.

Ahead of his slot on the UFC's sold-out card in his hometown of Dublin on October 24, we had a civilised chat with the 27-year-old about MMA, boxing and GAA.


Q. First of all Paddy, thanks for taking the time out to speak to The Irish Post. Let’s start with your next opponent then, Louis Smolka. We saw him defeat Irishman Neil Seery in Las Vegas recently. Assuming you've studied that performance, did you learn anything new about him?

A. Not really, to be honest. I don’t really keep an eye on too many other people in the division because I concentrate on myself. Sometimes you see other fighters get really consumed by a name they’re fighting or who they want to fight. He’s three-and-one (three UFC defeats, one loss) and I’m three-and-one, so it makes sense.

Q. The American currently has an honourable mention in the MMA flyweight rankings, whereas you are unranked, does that play on your mind at all?

A. I honestly didn’t even realise that. The rankings to me mean nothing, if a fight makes sense and it makes money, then we make it happen. If you look at Kyoji Horiguchi, he fought number one Demetrious Johnson in Montreal even though he’s not in the top 10, and I only know that because I was out in Montreal at the time. I don’t pay attention. As I said, if a fight makes sense, we make it happen.

Louis Smolka is Holohan's next opponent [Picture: Getty] Louis Smolka is Holohan's next opponent [Picture: Getty]
Q. You mentioned Montreal there – you've been to Canada, USA and Glasgow in your last three fights, is it good to fighting back in your hometown of Dublin again?

A. It’s absolutely amazing, it’s going to be great, especially since I don’t have the pressure of hosting the show. It’s such a relief to know for such a long time who I’ll be fighting too, which hasn’t always been the case in the past.

Q. We see SBG posting pictures and videos of young Irish boys and girls training to become MMA fighters, hoping to emulate the likes of yourself and Conor McGregor in the UFC one day. Would you agree that the sport is in a healthy condition in terms of growth and participation?

A. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into this and it’s still growing. A lot of the young guys coming up are learning from me and so are their corners, and they’re learning hands on. There’s a wave of people coming through and it’s important to put grassroots in place. My own gym is going to be opening soon in my area [Tallaght] so that’s going to be another way to ensure that it keeps growing and keeps expanding.

A video posted by SBGIRELAND (@sbgireland) on

Q. Where do you start with the younger people who want to learn MMA?

A. It’s not just the combat skills, the skills are only a part of the game. Learning how to mentally prepare yourself, protect your body, how to train and do so in that environment – all of this is important. Younger people can also learn from our mistakes; if you learn from mistakes you make it easier to make it to the top.

Q. Would you go as far as to say that MMA has actually outgrown boxing as the number one combat sport in Ireland right now?

A. I would 100 per cent say that. Anyone who refuses to adapt to that now will never accept it. Give me a combat sport that’s bigger and better than MMA?

The next wave of foundation gorillas learning the trade @sbgireland #teamhooligan #sbg #eire A photo posted by Paddy"the Hooligan"holohan (@sbg_hooligan) on

Q. It's the third time a UFC event has been staged in Dublin – second time around it sold out within a couple of hours when you made your UFC debut – this time it sold out in a minute. Does it make you proud to be such a big player in this cultural movement in Ireland?

A. About five years ago I remember saying to myself how I had a special opportunity to serve my apprenticeship. I remember saying to others to watch out for Conor McGregor and all these other guys. At the time we were all just training in the gym, doing what we do today. For me to become a person that people will mention when they talk about MMA in 20 years’ time, that’s a nice thought. For people who want to get into it now, it’s not all about training yourself to take a punch or a kick to the head. Hearing things like that make me laugh – nobody wants to take a punch to the head and there’s no way to get used to being hit. It’s about being able to adapt and overcome situations – you have to know how to come through these things.

Q. There was a five-year gap between the first UFC show in Dublin and the second, but just one year between the last two events, would you like this to become an unofficial annual occasion for Irish sports fans?

A. I think it could become the second St. Patrick’s Day from now on!

Q. Do you think maybe you could headline the fourth instalment in Dublin, assuming the UFC comes back?

A. Of course, I think I have the ability to headline this next one. But, as I say, I don’t really concentrate too much about where I am on the card or who I’m even fighting, where he’s from or whatever, I just keep it nice and simple. I train, I make weight, I turn up and fight the guy to the best of my ability.

Q. Away from yourself, Paddy, what do you make of the main event on the night, do you fancy Joseph Duffy to produce the goods?

A. I definitely do. I think Joe will deal with Dustin Poirier no problem.

Q. Just finally Paddy, you're a Dublin man, do you follow the GAA much?

A. I do indeed, I follow my own – Dublin. I think we’ll learn from the mistakes we made against Mayo. Giving up a lead like that [in the first meeting] is never going to be applauded, but I don’t know if the extra game will set us back a bit for the final.