Paddy Pimblett is on a fast track to the UFC and ‚ÄėThe Baddy‚Äô wants to mix it up with the Octagon‚Äôs featherweight heroes straight away
To make it to the top in mixed martial arts it‚Äôs 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. They‚Äôve got to talk the talk and walk the walk. Fighters who are as accomplished at dropping verbal bombs as they are ground ‚Äėn‚Äô pound are like precious stones, but there‚Äôs one featherweight gem from Liverpool ready to shine on the biggest stage.
Not only does Paddy Pimblett say he‚Äôs the number-one featherweight in the UK, he insists he‚Äôs the best 145lb‚Äôer in the world. ‚ÄúI am a future UFC champion. I am,‚ÄĚ insists the Next Generation submission whizz. ‚ÄúBut I‚Äôm no ‚ÄėScouse Conor McGregor‚Äô, as people are saying. He‚Äôs the Irish Paddy Pimblett. Because once I get there he‚Äôs going to get forgotten about. People will be asking, ‚ÄėConor who?‚Äô when I get into the UFC.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs 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 ‚ÄėThe Baddy‚Äô has got the skills to conquer in the Octagon.
‚ÄúI‚Äôd like to go now,‚ÄĚ Pimblett adds. ‚ÄúI watch all UFC events and think, ‚ÄėI‚Äôd demoralize you.‚Äô I watch UFC featherweights and I wonder how they even got into the UFC. Some of them are a joke. Everyone‚Äôs getting excited about Yair Rodriguez, but I watched his fight at UFC 197 against Andre Fili and, believe me, they would both get smoked. I‚Äôd annihilate both of them. Fast.‚ÄĚ
There are only a handful of names on the Octagon‚Äôs 145lb roster that Pimblett has any respect for ‚Äď its top three fighters in fact. Yet even they aren‚Äôt exempt from being called out by the confident youngster. ‚ÄúThe McGregors, Aldos, Edgars, that‚Äôs it. There‚Äôs 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 shouldn‚Äôt be there.
‚ÄúIf 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 I‚Äôll beat him. In fact, put me in with McGregor and I‚Äôll beat him too.¬†
‚ÄúThis is the thing, whenever I get matched with anyone, they don‚Äôt like it once they‚Äôre in there with me. I‚Äôm not like anyone they‚Äôve ever trained with in their lives. Everyone gets a shock ‚Äď nobody fights like me.‚ÄĚ
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 Rimmer‚Äôs Next Generation gym and started training four times a week, changing his entire lifestyle almost overnight to suit the sport and its demands. He‚Äôd found his calling.
Today he insists he‚Äôs unbeatable ‚Äď and says he‚Äôs got a submission loss to Cameron Else, from his fifth pro fight in October 2013, to thank for it. ‚ÄúAt that stage in my career, I needed a loss. I needed to get my head sorted out to get myself training properly again,‚ÄĚ he confesses to FO.¬†
‚ÄúI took him for granted. I was young, I thought I was unbeatable and I thought I didn‚Äôt 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.‚ÄĚ
He certainly couldn‚Äôt afford to look past ATT veteran Ashleigh Grimshaw on Cage Warriors‚Äô comeback show in April, who on paper was Pimblett‚Äôs toughest test to date. In the co-main event slot, UK MMA was divided on who would emerge with the ‚ÄėW‚Äô, but Paddy dominated from the first bell to the last. ‚ÄúIt was easy,‚ÄĚ adds the youngster, ‚Äúbut it was the scalp that showed the world I‚Äôm ready for the next step.‚ÄĚ
A Hard Day‚Äôs Fight - Fab Four tribute¬†
Pimblett‚Äôs known for his distinctive golden main, which he says is an homage to Liverpool‚Äôs favorite sons: ‚ÄúPeople 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 I‚Äôll be letting all the Yanks know that I‚Äôm the fifth Beatle. The world is going to know me soon enough, just like they knew them four.‚ÄĚ
* 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.