Paddy Pimblett is on a fast track to the UFC and āThe Baddyā wants to mix it up with the Octagonās featherweight heroes straight away
To make it to the top in mixed martial arts itās imperative to fashion yourself into a bankable star. An athlete must be dynamic, dominant and technically deft inside the cage to climb the rankings, but to truly cash in, they have to be able to sell themselves. Theyāve got to talk the talk and walk the walk. Fighters who are as accomplished at dropping verbal bombs as they are ground ānā pound are like precious stones, but thereās one featherweight gem from Liverpool ready to shine on the biggest stage.
Not only does Paddy Pimblett say heās the number-one featherweight in the UK, he insists heās the best 145lbāer in the world. āI am a future UFC champion. I am,ā insists the Next Generation submission whizz. āBut Iām no āScouse Conor McGregorā, as people are saying. Heās the Irish Paddy Pimblett. Because once I get there heās going to get forgotten about. People will be asking, āConor who?ā when I get into the UFC.ā
Thatās a huge statement from a 21-year-old who, in his own words, looks like a 12-year-old. Yet ask all but one of his 11 past opponents whether āThe Baddyā has got the skills to conquer in the Octagon.
āIād like to go now,ā Pimblett adds. āI watch all UFC events and think, āIād demoralize you.ā I watch UFC featherweights and I wonder how they even got into the UFC. Some of them are a joke. Everyoneās getting excited about Yair Rodriguez, but I watched his fight at UFC 197 against Andre Fili and, believe me, they would both get smoked. Iād annihilate both of them. Fast.ā
There are only a handful of names on the Octagonās 145lb roster that Pimblett has any respect for ā its top three fighters in fact. Yet even they arenāt exempt from being called out by the confident youngster. āThe McGregors, Aldos, Edgars, thatās it. Thereās a lot of dead wood in the UFC. Every weight class is mostly fighters making up the numbers. There are a lot of guys who shouldnāt be there.
āIf I got the run McGregor had I would have the same number of bonuses and the same wins as him too. And I include (Chad) Mendes in that statement. Put me in with Mendes now and Iāll beat him. In fact, put me in with McGregor and Iāll beat him too.Ā
āThis is the thing, whenever I get matched with anyone, they donāt like it once theyāre in there with me. Iām not like anyone theyāve ever trained with in their lives. Everyone gets a shock ā nobody fights like me.ā
Pimblett started training MMA aged 15, after watching UFC 103. Seeing Vitor Belfort KO Rich Franklin spurred him to go for a run at 5am with the sound of Bruce Buffer announcing him into the Octagon ringing in his ears. A week later he walked into Paul Rimmerās Next Generation gym and started training four times a week, changing his entire lifestyle almost overnight to suit the sport and its demands. Heād found his calling.
Today he insists heās unbeatable ā and says heās got a submission loss to Cameron Else, from his fifth pro fight in October 2013, to thank for it. āAt that stage in my career, I needed a loss. I needed to get my head sorted out to get myself training properly again,ā he confesses to FO.Ā
āI took him for granted. I was young, I thought I was unbeatable and I thought I didnāt have to train hard to beat him. It was a lesson. And since that loss I have not and will not ever underestimate anybody ever again.ā
He certainly couldnāt afford to look past ATT veteran Ashleigh Grimshaw on Cage Warriorsā comeback show in April, who on paper was Pimblettās toughest test to date. In the co-main event slot, UK MMA was divided on who would emerge with the āWā, but Paddy dominated from the first bell to the last. āIt was easy,ā adds the youngster, ābut it was the scalp that showed the world Iām ready for the next step.ā
A Hard Dayās Fight - Fab Four tributeĀ
Pimblettās known for his distinctive golden main, which he says is an homage to Liverpoolās favorite sons: āPeople like to call them ket-wigs, but I hate that phrase and I prefer to think of it as my tribute to The Beatles. When I get to the big show Iāll be letting all the Yanks know that Iām the fifth Beatle. The world is going to know me soon enough, just like they knew them four.ā
* Paddy Pimblett co-headlines tomorrow's Cage Warriors 78 card in his hometown of Liverpool, UK. The event will be broadcast live domestically on BT Sport and worldwide on UFC Fight Pass.