With Irish blood coursing through his veins, Paddy Holohan couldn’t resist introducing the Slovakian Oktagon Challenge staff to some of his country’s classic hits.
In a remarkable career, the 35-year-old made history by becoming the first Irishman to ever compete in the UFC, and now serves as an inspiration for the next generation. And in addition to passing on his skills to the Irish team on Channel 4’s new reality TV show, he’s spreading the dulcet tones of Shane MacGowan to a brand new audience.
Paddy Holohan adores Irish music
In an exclusive interview with Sporf, he revealed: “I had a great bunch of lads on the team. You could see the camaraderie right from the start. In all of the sessions, we had The Pogues and The Wolfe Tones blasting. Even some of the staff said, ‘I like this’.
“I think Irish music travels the world. It’s all about Irish tradition. That’s one thing we’ve always done. There’s a great saying, as I said on the show, ‘We don’t invade the world; we infest it’. It’s a nice way to do things; all of a sudden, you’ve got an Irish friend here and there. You go anywhere in the world, you’ll see an Irish man or an Irish woman. You could be in Australia, Chicago, Boston and many cities all over the world, and there’s Irish out there.”
And as it turned out, Holohan was never made to feel homesick as there was an Irish bar just a stone’s throw away from the Oktagon studio.
He chuckled: “In Slovakia, there was actually an Irish pub around the corner from where I was living. I only found out in the last few weeks, but that was probably for the best because the prices were Irish prices to make you feel at home.”
Paddy Holohan has proven himself as a fantastic coach on Oktagon Challenge: England vs Ireland
Showcasing his knowledge of the fight game, the former flyweight has successfully guided Denis Frimpong to the finale of the competition on November 4 at the AO Arena in Manchester at Oktagon 48.
In an eagerly-anticipated clash, the controversial competitor, who has become the pantomime villain of the show, will fight George Staines for a contract worth £25,000. However, he’s not the only man Holohan will have to corner.
In a collision that has caught the imagination, Holohan will walk into the heat of battle with Aaron McDonald, who’s looking to finally settle his rivalry with Hascen Neri Gelezi. And it’s fair to say the UFC veteran owes his countryman after the Belfast native put him in absolute hysterics with a magnificent impression of his nemesis.
He laughed: “I think Aaron has been gas on the show. One thing that keeps coming back to me, and has me p*****g myself laughing, is when he said, ‘We’ve got a new cleaner; her name’s Hascen’. What a line. Whoever caught that on camera deserves a raise.
“Hascen is a good lad. I don’t think he knew what he was in for with the Irish. I think he thought he could be intimidating, but he realised that it doesn’t work over here. Being intimidated would push us on to be like, ‘Come on’.”
“I got on well with Hascen. It’s a great fight. It’s a rivalry, and Hascen has the chance to get some credit back against the Irish, or fall again.”
Paddy Holohan loves Ireland
While Holohan has toured the world, fighting in the most spectacular venues known to man, nothing compares to home. While many in his position would allow ego to get the better of them, in a testament to his admirable character, Holohan has remained true to his roots, never forgetting where he came from.
He beamed: “It’s in our blood, as they say. It’s in the Irish nature. Probably the best gift we got from England is the ability to never back down. You’ll see it in nations across the world where oppression has been implemented. The people keep the traditions, the music, the culture and all of that stuff. I love all that.”
“If you were to say, ‘What does someone from Ireland look like’? People would point at me, and I wouldn’t get offended. I’m the epitome of Ireland. I love my country with all of my heart.”
Featured Image Credit: Oktagon MMA