Since he was a teenager, the octagon was the only place where MMA fighter Paddy Holohan’s life settled into something approaching focus. Far removed from the chaos of the outside world – all those opportunities spurned and relationships undone, the pain and alienation – every bout reduced that maze of hardship to one simple proposition: survive.
In mixed martial arts, bouts are often decided by the finest margins. In Paddy’s case, the knife edge was made all the keener by Factor XIII deficiency, a vanishingly rare form of haemophilia he had spent years hiding from the sport’s authorities. For the duration of his career, he was never more than one misplaced strike away from death.
Why enter the octagon knowing you might never leave? For Holohan, it would take a journey to the summit of his sport, and a high-profile fall from grace, to unravel the answer to that question and, with it, finally find some measure of redemption. This is his story.
Paddy Holohan is a former mixed martial artist who competed in the flyweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. After initially coming to prominence as a contestant on the reality show The Ultimate Fighter, Holohan fought five times for the promotion before the revelation of a life-threatening blood disorder forced his retirement from the sport in 2016. Holohan is currently the owner and manager of SBG 24, a mixed martial arts facility and community centre in Greenhills, West Dublin. He presents the popular podcast ‘No Shame’.
Richard Barrett is the co-founder and COO of Pundit Arena.