Exclusive Paddy Pimblett Interview:
By Jon Prentice
Cage Warriors 96 goes down next month on September 1st with the organisation making its return to the Echo Arena in Liverpool. There is always a special atmosphere in the Liverpudlian air when the promotion enters the city, and I am expecting no different on this occasion when huge fan favourite and Liverpool’s own Paddy Pimblett (14-2) takes on Denmark’s Soren Bak (11-1) for the Cage Warriors Lightweight title in the main event of the evening.
I had the chance to catch up with Paddy Pimblett this week to get his thoughts ahead of the showdown.
With just over 3 weeks to go until Pimblett makes the walk to the cage, preparations could not be going better ahead of one of the biggest fights in his career.
“Boss camp, brilliant camp, one of the best I have had in a long while” Paddy said. “Just a few little niggling injuries but you get through them, you crack on.”
Pimblett will be making only his second appearance in the Lightweight division, with his first taking place at Cage Warriors 90 in Liverpool back in February as he defeated Alexis Savvidis in impressive fashion via flying triangle/armbar in the opening minute of the second round. The victory put Pimblett back in the win column following a loss to Nad Narimani at Cage Warriors 82 in April 2017 where he lost his Featherweight belt. Losing is something he doesn’t take too kindly to, “Losing a fight as an MMA fighter there is nothing like it, it lights a fire underneath your arse, I just wanted to get back in there and get the win. Losing a fight is disgusting and the only thing I can compare it to is a family member dying” Pimblett stated.
“As you can tell watching my celebrations I went bananas”, Pimblett said, when he locked on the submission and got the victory over Savvidis in front of his home fans when he was finally able to make his return and get back to doing what he does best. However the near 12 month layoff between the loss to Narimani and stepping back in the cage against Savvidis was a one Pimblett would rather forget.
“I was meant to fight in the October (2017) but due to unforeseen circumstances I had to pull out of that fight. After that it killed me not being able to fight, you know what I mean. I lost and I was meant to rectify that straight away and couldn’t, but it was out of my hands I got told I couldn’t fight so I didn’t just pull out I got told”, Pimblett said.
“Being a fighter you want to fight, that’s it. I have said it before and I will say it again, we don’t get paid to fight, we like fighting, I love fighting.”
“I put all sorts into the Savvidis fight, for me if I hadn’t won that I was finished.”
It later transpired that Pimblett went into that bout with Savvidis with a broken bone in his wrist, picked up during training just a few weeks before the showdown.
“I was training at Renzo’s in New York, I hurt my wrist a few times there and when I got home I went the hospital as I thought I had hurt my ligament or something and got it x-rayed and they said I had a broken bone. I did that 3 weeks before I fought Savvidis so I fought with a broken right wrist.”
Making the move up to Lightweight in his last fight, Pimblett benefited from not having to cut weight which is appearing an ever more popular decision amongst fighters, and an approach that he will more than likely proceed with in the future.
“It was good, didn’t have to cut weight just dieted to 70kg and I will probably do the same this time.”
Pimblett believes that the lack of weight cut will have even more of an impact in a 5 round title fight, such as the one coming up against Bak, even if there is a discrepancy in their weights come fight night.
“The lack of a cut cancels it out because I’m fresher but it makes even more of an impact in a 5 round fight. Soren (Bak) gasses after 2 rounds, I might just put him away before 2 rounds but he gasses after 2 anyway even if it does go further. I’m going to have the stamina to go ten, 5 minute rounds.”
However, despite not cutting weight to reach the 155lbs limit, Pimblett does not believe that there will be a size difference when he and his counterpart square off, something he feels that Bak has underestimated.
“He might be a little bit wider but I am bigger everywhere else. Got a bigger back, taller, got a longer reach, longer legs….he is not going to like it.”
Bak is currently 11-1 and riding a three fight win streak, when asked what he sees in his opponents game, Pimblett believes that he is the better overall fighter and is comfortable wherever the fight takes place.
“Literally anywhere the fight goes I am better than him” Pimblett stated. “If he wants to come out and stand with me I’ll knock him out, if he wants to come and take me down, which I don’t think he will be able to as I’ll just be stuffing takedowns and punching him in the face, but if he does end up on top of me for some mad unforeseen circumstance then I’ll sub him off my back. If I feel like taking him down on the night and end up on top of him I will TKO from the top. Literally all he has is his top game, he is s**t everywhere else.”
Speaking of Bak’s previous opponents, it’s safe to say that Pimblett isn’t overly impressed with what he has seen.
“He went to a decision with Scott Clist, now Scott Clist doesn’t know what jiu jitsu is never mind being good at it. Alexander Jacobsen, I like the fella but he just quit in that fight, I don’t know how he got finished from a head and arm choke from mount, but Jacobsen quit in that fight just like he did against Fishy (Chris Fishgold).”
Soren Bak has previously competed in front of the hostile Liverpool crowd when he took on and defeated Martin Stapleton at Cage Warriors 88, however Pimblett believes that it will be a whole different environment when he steps into the cage against one of Liverpools son’s.
“He has fought in Liverpool before and he thinks that is what the crowd is like and it’s not. He was fighting Martin Stapleton and he is not a scouser, (fighting me) is a whole different prospect, it’s a whole different game and he is coming in there against their boy. He’s not going to be into it, he thinks he has fought there before but it’s a whole different ball game to when he fought there last time.”
The build up to the main event at Cage Warriors 96 has been an entertaining one, with the organisation releasing one of the best promo videos I have seen outside of the UFC. Despite feeling confident in victory, Pimblett holds no bad blood towards Bak and enjoyed the experience of shooting the promo video ahead of the event.
“I’ll be honest me and Soren were chatting and that every now and again, it is not hostile or nothing, we don’t hate each other. We were having a little bit of banter actually on Twitter the other day just having little sly digs just messing. Nothing is serious between me and him, we just know that this is the fight game. I can’t just be sitting there all quiet, it’s stupid, that’s how you don’t get paid!”
A victory on September 1st will see Pimblett become a two weight Cage Warriors World Champion at just 23 years of age. Many would think that the natural next step would be to the UFC, however Pimblett insists that he will assess his options first, and may even attempt to reclaim his Cage Warriors Featherweight Title before a move to the world premier Mixed Martial Arts promotion.
“It sounds good that doesn’t it, 23 and two time World Champion” Pimblett exclaimed.
“I’m headstrong, I know what I want and I’ll be honest that Featherweight belt is still mine, he (Nad Narimani) never beat me. A few people don’t think he beat me. He never defended and he just sat out and waited to take the late notice UFC fight and luckily enough his opponent pulled out and he got a full camp” said Pimblett.
“I could main event Cage Warriors 100, either defending the Lightweight belt or getting the Featherweight belt. We are speaking about it at the moment to be honest” he added.
Pimblett further went on to detail how he has previously had offers from the UFC but he is biding his time. He has also watched as fighters he doesn’t think deserve to make the switch have been signed to the promotion.
“I have already had two offers from the UFC, I could have signed for them twice. Others (signed by the UFC) just want some publicity and to get famous and that and I’m looking at them thinking you aren’t half the fighter I am, you haven’t got a f*****g tenth of the mouth that I’ve got, what are you’s even doing there you f*****g helmets.”
Questionned further as to why he didn’t sign with the UFC when previously approached, Paddy stated that the timing just wasn’t right and it was ultimately his decision not to sign.
“It was on me you know what I mean. I have said it before, it was either fight on UFC Liverpool but if you do Cage Warriors at the Echo isn’t happening. I’m not a selfish c**t, I don’t just think about myself, I think about my team and my family and I didn’t want to just sign on 5 weeks notice and rush into that.”
At just 23 years of age, time is definitely on Pimblett’s side and a big factor in his decision not to make the move to the organisation until the timing is right. He does feel that the MMA community often forgets that he is only 23 years old and he has his best years ahead of him.
“People forget how old I am, they think I am older because of how long I have been doing it. Fighters don’t end up hitting their prime until they are what, 30!? So people just really forget how old I am and it does my head in at times.”
Despite being only 23, Pimblett believes he has the experience advantage over most, including opponent Soren Bak.
“I have been training 9 years in January just after my 15th birthday, I am a f*****g veteran of this sport but I am still only 23. People think Soren Bak is older and probably has more fight IQ but I don’t think anybody I have fought has more experience. I’m 14-2 so that’s 16 fights already and people forget that I have had 9 amateur fight as well, most of which went to decision so that’s 25 fights.”
A victory over Soren Bak and by becoming a two weight World Champion, Pimblett would write his name in Liverpool’s MMA folklore, and as a proud scouser he is happy to see the sport thriving in the city with the likes of himself, Darren Till, Molly McCann, Chris Fishgold and Lee Chadwick amongst others currently flying the flag. He believes that fighters coming out of Liverpool are a different breed to any others across the world, which is what makes them stand out.
“We are our own people, a different breed. We are our own definition, we are scouse. We are cut from a different cloth, we have had to survive on our own for years, we are the forgotten city in the UK. We have had to fight like that to survive, getting in the cage compared to that is nothing, it’s easy.”
Finally, when asked if he had any last message for his opponent before the September 1st showdown, Pimblett stated:
“I hope he is training hard and he is ready. I want it to be a good fight, I don’t want to blow him away, I want it to go two or three rounds and to put a show on for the scousers. You never know this could be the last time I fight in the (Echo) arena before I go to the UFC and then you will see record sales and record sell outs. I have no doubt about it and I will do it….I will sell Anfield out.”
Paddy Pimblett vies for his second world title as he takes on Soren Bak in what should be a raucous atmosphere in front of his home fans on September 1st from the Echo Arena in Liverpool. You can catch all the action live on BT Sports.