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John Kavanagh 'genuinely heartbroken' over Paddy Holohan's sudden retirement

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Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Holohan, or 'Paddy' as he's routinely called, was at the top of the Irish class in terms of the current crop of fighters who broke out alongside Conor McGregor to make a name for themselves in the UFC. McGregor stands alone in his accomplishments and stature, but he isn't alone as the sole representative of the Republic of Ireland. Names like Cathal Pendred, Aisling Daly and Paddy Holohan - all members with McGregor at SBG Dublin - rose to prominence in the last several years inside the sport.

For Holohan, however, that rise has been cut abruptly short. In a message on Facebook this week, Holohan announced his immediate retirement from the sport due to public discovery he has a rare blood clotting condition.

As the coach of Holohan and the other Irish fighters putting Ireland on the map, John Kavanagh told Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour he's gutted by the news. Given the recent issues Irish MMA has been dealing with, however, he's not ready to call the situation a tragedy just yet.

"I was genuinely heartbroken," Kavanagh said of Holohan's retirement. "It's just some super rare genetic disorder. Like he said in his own statement, you've got guys that can take PEDs and it's a fine or a small ban, but they come back. But this is just something that's sort of a roll of the dice when he was born and he just happened to have this. It's been pretty incredible what he's been able to achieve with it. There were things that were changing in training for him that I felt he was going to give it a good run.

"In saying that, we obviously have the absolute tragic situation with Joao Carvalho two weeks ago now," Kavanagh noted. "That's real tragedy. This is a sport's career cut short. The selfish side of me is somewhat not absolutely broken up about it because we're opening up this mega gym together in a couple of weeks. Now he's 100 percent focused on that and not kind of half focused on fighting and half on that."

What Kavanagh's referring to is a gym he and Holohan are opening, SBG Tallaght. Tallaght, a small town on the outskirts of south Dublin, is where Holohan will operate an SBG affiliate, coach his own team of fighters and move into the next stage of his career as a gym owner, operator and fight trainer. As far as Kavanagh is concerned, there's almost a small blessing in it all for him and even Holohan himself.

"I'm looking forward to a new relationship with Paddy where we're two coaches now and we're more buddies than student and coach," Kavanagh reflected. "I'm very excited to see him direct his energy towards getting his own gym, successful and producing his own little team of fighters and making a real positive impact on his community. He's so proud of where he's from. I know he's going to do great things there."