Irish UFC welterweight star Cathal Pendred says he is on cloud nine heading into his Boston clash with Sean Spencer on Sunday week.
The Dubliner returns to his birth city looking to improve on his 15-3-1 record in MMA.
He is part of a card that also includes three other Irishmen in the form of Conor McGregor, Norman Parke and Paddy Holohan.
“I’m feeling great. I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve right now. I was born there, lived there until I was four and haven’t been back back since I left,” Pendred told RTÉ Sport.
“I’m unbelievably excited to fly back to the city and soak up all the atmosphere and see my birth place. It’s a very special moment for me.
“I feel like I’m in a Disney movie. I know the reception for all us Irish guys is going to be amazing. Boston is a place that’s rich with history and heritage and the people over there are very proud of their Irish heritage.
“I can even remember being a kid over there. How well my family was received because we were a young Irish family. We were treated like royalty over there. So I can’t even fathom what it’s going to be like over there as a UFC star now.”
"To be great at this sport you have to be great in every area of the game and I’ve been really working my stand-up" - Cathal Pendred
In terms of what UFC fans can expect to see from The Punisher, he feels he has plenty of new tricks up his sleeve that he will unveil at The Garden.
He said: “I’ve just been basing my training around me and trying to improve everything.
"To be great at this sport you have to be great in every area of the game and I’ve been really working my stand-up. One of this guy’s favourite areas is stand-up. I’m very happy to get in there and exchange punches with this guy.
“There’s a lot of things I’ve been working on and I feel I’ve got better at. And I wanted to show that in the last fight [against Gasan Umalatov] but I feel I didn’t get an opportunity to do that.
“With the opponent I have I think I’m going to be able to showcase all these new things. I think the fans in the UFC are going to like it.”
Pendred also discussed UFC light middleweight champion Jon Jones’ positive test for cocaine before his eighth title defence last Saturday in Las Vegas, condemning the news in no uncertain terms.
“I was very shocked by the whole thing. It’s not something you expect from the champion,” said Pendred.
“Having said that, it’s good to see that he’s taken the steps and entered rehab, and what not.
“With regards to the full effects, we’ll have to see the results when the post-fight tests come in.
“I would be shocked if it was in his system in the post-fight drugs test. I think he was caught out by this test that was done in December that most likely he didn’t know was happening.
“It’s never good for a sport.
“It’s never good for an athlete’s image. Hopefully he comes through this and gets over it. From my own personal opinion, I’m not happy to see it.”
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