Paul Redmond proves there's life after the UFC

After being cut from the UFC, Redmond admits he considered giving up MMA for good

Paul Redmond, BAMMA,

Image: Paul Redmond celebrates after defeating Chris Stringer. ©INPHO/Gary Carr

Paul Redmond became the first Irishman signed by Bellator on the back of their collaboration deal with BAMMA last week.

It took just one victory outside of the UFC for ‘Redser’ to align himself with one of the biggest promotions in the world again, but when he was given his marching orders by the world’s flagship MMA promotion back in December, it very nearly led to the end of his fight career.

“Honestly, when I was cut from the UFC I was thinking ‘F**k this MMA b******s’. I’ve never spoken about this, but it’s a year and a half down the road now,” he explained.

Redmond’s two UFC fights weren’t contested under ideal circumstances. He was given his debut as a short notice replacement for undefeated featherweight Mirsad Bektic, in January 2015.

The Dubliner cut 33 lbs in two weeks in an effort to get down to 145 lbs for the first time, but still managed to go the distance with Bektic – a man regarded by many as a future UFC champion.

In his second outing, he faced Robert Whiteford in front of the Scot’s home crowd in Glasgow and suffered a knockout loss in the first round. As far as he was concerned at the time, he hadn’t been able to perform at the highest level of the sport.

“I was just going to do jiu-jitsu. I felt I had made it to the top level but I hadn’t performed. That had been playing on my mind for a while, and then the call came in December to say I had been cut.

“Andy (Ryan) rang me straight away and told me to come up to the house for a cup of coffee. I went up I told him how I felt and what he said to me that day is the reason why I’m still fighting.

“He told me that it was just a knockback. He told me that people lose in sports every day and that people lose their jobs every day. People lose their UFC contracts all the time, and sometimes, they do get back in there.

“I started to train again and when there were no fights on the horizon I realized how much loved fighting. BAMMA came looking for me and I was interested immediately.”

The work Redmond had put in over the year and a half he spent inactive was evident from his physique when he saw off Chris Stringer at the 3 Arena last month.

The submission specialist looks more conditioned than he ever has and explained that with more lean body mass, the cut down to featherweight will be far more manageable than it was the first time around.

Image: Paul Redmond fighting Chris Stringer. ©INPHO/Gary Carr

For a long time Redmond promised that he would never return to the division, but when Ryan explained that Bellator was interested in him he quickly changed his mind.

“I was here last Friday and Andy said to me, ‘what do you think of featherweight?’

“I told him where to go straight away, but then he said that Bellator was on looking for me. I was in two minds and he told me to think about it over the weekend. On Saturday night I text him and said ‘let’s do it’.

“I have a massive head. I’m not being funny, but that’s the problem. If I had a normal, Petesy Carroll-sized head, I could probably make bantamweight,” he laughed.

Redmond questioned his future last December, but in hindsight, he’s glad the way everything panned, including his lengthy spell on the sidelines.

“I’m actually glad things have gone the way they’ve gone. I was cut from the UFC and then I had to wait a long time to get a fight together. Throughout the year and a half I had to wait I was getting stronger, leaner and I was able to work on my technique.

“I was able to get a win last month at BAMMA, and that’s huge in your first fight after the UFC. I’ve basically been able to get rid of any rust I had, get back in the win column and now I’m back in the big leagues. I can’t complain about that.”

German Daniel Weichel will definitely give us some insight as to where Redmond’s title hopes lie in Bellator. The 31-year-old previously fought for the Bellator featherweight title and ‘Redser’ knows what a win over such an established opponent could do for him.

“I’m very aware that this is a high profile fight. Bellator didn’t have to give me that. BAMMA was asked for a name and they put me forward and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that.

“I know he’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu, he’s fought for the Bellator featherweight title and he’s fought Ben Henderson. I know this guy is as tough as nails, but do you know what? So am I.

“The amount of weight I cut for my UFC debut in Sweden, the first time I ever made featherweight, was unreal. I got in there depleted against one of the best featherweights in the world, Mirsad Bektic, and he couldn’t put me away.

“That guy is going through that division like a knife through butter and he’s stopping everyone. I know what I’m capable of and I’m ready to show everybody that.”

A lot of people feel that fighters can really hinder their chances of making it to the UFC if they sign with their biggest rivals, Bellator. For Redmond, he would be more than happy to sign on the dotted line for the promotion should they extend another contract in his direction following his debut on December 16th at the 3 Arena.

“This is a great opportunity, there’s no way I was ever going to turn down Bellator. They’re paying just as much as UFC and in Bellator, you can still make money off your own sponsors.

“You’ve got to take this sport one fight at a time, there’s no point in worrying about what’s going to happen if you win or lose. Of course, if Bellator offered me something after this fight I would jump all over it.

“Your whole career is always on the next fight. It doesn’t matter what promotion you’re fighting for. Even if Bellator hadn’t snapped me up and I was fighting for BAMMA, it would be the biggest fight of my career.

“Losses put you back at least nine months in this sport most of the time. You won’t get a title shot unless you have a three-fight win streak, and usually big shows like Bellator and UFC aren’t interested in you if you don’t have a three-fight win streak. You need that nine months to reestablish the streak.”

Interestingly, the only two Irish representatives on the Bellator books are featherweights. While Redmond doubts that the promotion would ever put it together, he revealed that he would have no problem with fighting James Gallagher if that was what they offered him.

“I’ve never ever turned down any fight, ever,” he said. “This isn’t a personal thing for me. This is a sport, and honestly, I’d fight anybody.

“I fought Artem (Lobov). I fought Phil Mulpeter. Actually, I sat in the same sauna cutting weight with Phil Mulpeter and then we went out and fought each other the next day. After the fight, we went and had a few pints. Nothing is personal here.

“Saying that, I don’t see Bellator putting me and James together. That fight never happens as far as I’m concerned. We’re the two Irish guys, and it doesn’t really make sense for them to make us fight each other. Really, it makes no sense to that if they’re looking to grow the Irish market."