Cathal Pendred "enjoying life after fighting" as he opens Chopped outlet

The former MMA fighter is now in the business of healthy food...

Cathal Pendred "enjoying life after fighting" as he opens Chopped outlet

Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Former Irish MMA fighter Cathal Pendred has left the octagon for the business arena, as he starts a new career in the health food game.

The Dubliner, a former welterweight champion and UFC competitor, has officially opened his first Chopped outlet today.

The Blanchardstown eatery is the healthy food chain's biggest to date, seating 52 and employing 30.

Ahead of the launch, Pendred stopped by Newstalk studios to talk to Business Breakfast about his business aspirations and life since his retirement as a mixed martial arts fighter last November. 

"My decision to get into the health food business actually happened, a few years ago, long before I had the money to do it," he explained.

"Being an athlete or a fighter, I had to have a very specific diet and I always found it extremely difficult to find any healthy food on the go.

"There was just bad food available – chicken fillet rolls and all this stuff that I wouldn't have been able to have. So I decided there was an opportunity there.

"A lot of young people like myself want to eat healthy these days," the 28-year-old continued. "People are more conscious than ever about healthy food and their own wellbeing.

"When I got to the UFC and started earning some money, I started putting it away for that reason."

Pendred had planned to strike out on his own, but meeting Chopped co-founder Brian Lee through a mutual friend led to the new partnership.

Whilst Chopped franchises will cost €20,000 for most, Pendred has gotten involved on a joint venture investment basis.

"It's a 50/50 investment," he explains. 

"For me, it's like on Dragon's Den. People go in there and they don't necessarily need the money but they see the opportunity of getting a Dragon invovled. That's what I see in getting those two guys [Lee and co-owner Andy Chen] involved.

"I've got two guys who have vast knowledge in that industry and they've great track records. I'm learning every day, this is new to me."

Not only that, the Blanchardstown outlet will be a family affair, with Pendred's sister also involved in the new Clean Living Company that will operate it.

"She was in the Department of Finance for a number of years, so she know show to add up things!"

The company is looking at other opportunities in the business.

"I'm planning on doing a second Chopped already," he revealed. "Obviously, we want to get this up off the ground and running before I dive into anything else. But definitely going to explore other opportunities in the health food business."

So how has life been since he stopped fighting?

"It's been great. It was a tough decision for me. It was something I was thinking about for a while and I wasn't sure if I was making the right decision or not.

"But having made the decision and stepped back from the sport of MMA, I definitely think it was the right decision.

"When you're fighting, it literally becomes your whole life. Everything you do revolves around fighting. You have little time for anything else and there were other things I wanted to explore. Obviously the business, I'm doing some acting now as well.

"They were always two things that were in my plans and I just couldn't do them while I was fighting.

"Really enjoying diving into those, and enjoying life after fighting."