clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Cathal Pendred on Conor McGregor: 'He's probably the most popular person in Ireland right now'

New, comments
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

We know Conor McGregor is a rising star in the United States and the UFC is giving the hard sell to fans leading up to Sunday's event. But how big is McGregor in his home country of Ireland?

Huge, according to McGregor's teammate Cathal Pendred.

"You can't really point the words to how much of a superstar he is right now," Pendred told Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour. "Not just the most popular athlete. He's probably the most popular person in Ireland right now. He's done major things for the sport, really brought MMA into the mainstream."

McGregor will meet Dennis Siver in the main event of UFC Fight Night 59 in Boston. If he wins, the Irishman will get a featherweight title shot against Jose Aldo. That bout could take place at one of two huge stadiums in Ireland, Croke Park or the Aviva.

"I know for a fact that when the UFC approached the stadiums at first they were a bit tentative and now they're fighting with each other for it," said Pendred, who meets Sean Spencer on the prelims of the card Sunday. "It's funny how it went. At least it shows they know how much interest there is in this one and how successful it's going to be. Either way, it's going to be the biggest UFC event ever held and it's pretty incredible it's gonna be held in a small little island called Ireland with only 5 million people."

There is nothing official yet. McGregor has to win first, of course. And UFC president Dana White has said that an Aldo-McGregor bout could also take place in Las Vegas or Aldo's home country of Brazil.

Pendred said his brother has some connections with Croke Park and the UFC might have already set up a preliminary date at the stadium. In any case, most people are very confident McGregor could sell out both of those stadiums. Croke Park holds more than 80,000 people and Aviva more than 60,000.

Pendred, an Ultimate Fighter 19 alum, said he knew McGregor would be huge one day.

"He's always been that personality," Pendred said. "He's exactly the way he is doing an interview as when he's in the gym. Anyone that's ever met him has been fond of him. Whether they like him or hate him, they always want to hear him speak anyway. I always knew. Even when we were on the local scene and a camera or microphone was pointed in front of him, it always got attention. I knew once it got to the international stage he was going to be huge."

As for Pendred, the fight with Spencer is a huge on for him. The 27-year-old is unbeaten in his last 10 fights, but is coming off an uninspiring performance against Gasan Umalatov in October.

He's hoping to make a statement at this very important event for him -- Pendred was actually born in Boston. His entire family will be coming into Boston and spending a week there after the fight. They will visit where they used to live, his old school and the hospital in which he and his sister were born. Pendred hasn't been there since he was 4 years old.

"I'm really looking forward to that," he said. "That's the highlight of the trip after the fight for me and my family."