Earlier today we learned of the unfortunate retirement of Paddy Holohan. The 27-year-old was forced to quit the sport he loved due to a rare blood disease that affects just '1 in 5 million' according to the flyweight (read more here).
As a tribute to Paddy I take a look at what I consider his top ten moments in his nine years as a professional MMA fighter:
10. Missing out on TUF
A strange one to start off with but hear me out. "This kid is from the projects in Dublin" I remember hearing Dana White talk about Paddy Holohan ahead of his elimination round fight for TUF 18 back in 2013. This would be the first introduction of Paddy to the bulk 'UFC' fans. Although he lost his fight to get into the house via unanimous decision it probably served as a blessing in disguise. Not many of the male contestants of that season have went on to do much.
Paddy was sporting a back injury at the time I believe and it was bantamweight that season, which meant that he could have easily been forgetful that season had he got through. Sure his loss to Josh Hill was forgetful, through no fault of his own but rather an opponent laying a praying.
9. Fixing a wrong
In February 2011 Paddy Holohan was a 5-0 prospect but he suffered his first setback of sorts when he fought Neil McGuigan to a controversial draw. Many felt Holohan got the win cleanly but like the old MMA cliché goes : 'don't leave it in the hands of the judges.'
And this is exactly what Holohan did when he had the opportunity to rematch McGuigan seven months later where he secured a first round submission win. Scenarios like this shape fighters and this most likely helped Paddy greatly.
8. Demolition of Damien Rooney
Paddy Holohan vs. Damien Rooney was one of the most talked about domestic fights of 2012. Two of the best homegrown talent meeting on a big local show in front of thousands for the biggest title at the time in Irish MMA.
Not many people knew which way it would go and very little separated them on paper. Then the bell rang and Holohan put in one of the best performances I have ever seen in person and won via KO in just over one minute into the first round.
See for yourself-
7. Submitting a submission artist
As a follow up to the win over Rooney, Holohan was pitted against one of Europe's most deadliest submission fighters Artemij Sitenkov, who at the time was 14-7 with all his victories coming via submission (including kneebar wins over Neil Seery and one Conor McGregor).
Holohan rose to the occasion and for the second fight in a row put on a top quality performance in a big fight in front of a large television audience. This would be his last fight before getting signed by the UFC.
6. Fight of the Night
Although his second fight in the UFC was a loss to Chris Kelades and also served as his first full professional loss Paddy impressed everyone. In defeat he managed to net himself a cool $50,000 bonus for his part in the 'fight of the night' at UFC Fight Night 54. Life changing money for a fighter so young in his UFC career.
5. Gym Owner
Everyone in the MMA scene in Ireland knows Paddy's involvement in coaching some of SBG's finest youngsters so it came as no surprise when it was announced a while ago that he will be spearheading a new SBG gym in his local Tallaght.
The gym in close to opening if it hasn't already and with his knowledge, experience and passion for the game you can expect nothing but good things to come from this.
An Irishman fight in Boston is always a big deal and at UFC Fight Night 59 headlined by the insanely popular Conor McGregor the pressure was on to perform.
Paddy was coming off his first defeat as a professional and served as the warm-up act for his teammate McGregor by being the first Irishman on the card. Once again Paddy relished this and gave the Boston natives something to cheer about as he beat Shane Howell to a unanimous decision.
3. Main eventing UFC Dublin
UFC Fight Night 76 in Dublin last October would turn out to be Paddy Holohan's last fight before retirement. Due to a series of last minute changes to the card he would also serve as the main event. Although it would have been better to have went out on a win it is rather poetic that Louis Smolka got the submission win after a hard fought two rounds.
Win, lose or draw, for an Irishman being main event in his hometown of Dublin on such a big card it is something to cherish.
2. "Cup Of Tea"
Paddy Holohan asked for a cup of tea after his emphatic win (we will get back to that later) in his UFC debut in Dublin just under two years ago. Little did he know that would take on a life of its own spawning Paddy Holohan/Tea related merchandise, involvement of nationwide campaigns for tea companies and even a visit to the Boston Tea Party Shop & Museum with Ariel Helwani for, you guessed it, a few cups of tea and a chat (see below).
It really became his signature, his calling card and helped him gain his popularity.
1. UFC Debut
On July 19th in 2014, almost exactly two years to the day since he last competed in a full professional fight, Paddy Holohan stepped out as the first fight of the night on the UFC's return to Ireland in over five years.
A lot of pressure was on. The home crowd, the fact he hadn't fought in so long, the disappointment missing out on TUF, UFC debut, but none of that mattered. Holohan stepped out there and got the ball rolling on probably the greatest night in Irish MMA history by submitting Josh Sampo in a little over three minutes of the first round. The roof came off the building and no doubt his performance spurned out his compatriots and teammates to go undefeated on the night.