Paddy Pimblett: “I am here to be the world champion, I am not here to make up the numbers.”
If ever a fighter was born for the bright lights of the UFC it was Paddy Pimblett. He has seemingly been around forever, yet Pimblett is only 26. The Liverpool fighter will say himself, it took time for him to mature, and it took repeated injuries and a period of self-reflection to do so. Pimblett has seen dark times these last few years, a career at risk, unfulfilled, he hit rock bottom. But ‘The Baddy’ is back and finally in the UFC.
Pimblett should have been here many years ago, but in many ways, he wasn’t ready. He is now.
In typical Pimblett fashion, the last few weeks have been far from smooth. There have been Visa problems to even get to Las Vegas, it was resolved but very late in the day. Pimblett only arrived in Vegas on Tuesday, hardly the ideal fight week preparation, but Pimblett told FightPost it won’t matter one bit:
“It’s just one of those things, it makes no difference, I am going to smash his head in.”
Even in his darkest hour Pimblett always held that belief he would still end up in the UFC. He says it was always a matter of when, not if. Pimblett has talked about not feeling the pressure in the build-up to his debut in the promised land, and looks and sounds like a fighter totally at home in his new surroundings. Make no mistake, Pimblett belongs here.
Luigi Vendramini will welcome Pimblett to his new home on Saturday night. Pimblett isn’t just chasing the win, he wants to do it in style:
“I am going to make a statement it’s that simple.”
Pimblett resisted the UFC advances on two separate occasions and now he is finally signed, Pimblett wants to ensure he stays active:
“I want to fight as regular as possible. I will take fight after fight, I am not one of those fighters that will demand opponents. I will fight anyone. I got sent 4 different opponents for the fight on Saturday and I said yes to every single one of them.”
Pimblett may have only just arrived in the UFC and will fight in perhaps the most-stacked division in the company, but with his usual self-confidence he believes he would beat any of his fellow lightweight contenders and right now:
“I’ll beat every single one of them right now. If you don’t believe you can you are in the wrong game. If you don’t believe you can beat the top fighters you are in the wrong sport. This isn’t football, this is MMA, we are fighters. If you don’t believe you can beat the world champion then you shouldn’t be in this sport. I am here to be the world champion, I am not here to make up the numbers.”
One fighter that has been linked with Pimblett for many a year is Conor McGregor. Pimblett said he would smoke McGregor six years ago, and he carries even more belief now that he would be too much for a McGregor who now is seemingly on the slide. A fight with McGregor at his beloved Anfield is the dream fight for the UFC newcomer.
“Of course that is where the money is at. You can’t take nothing away from him but I think I match up with him very well. I think I’ll put him on his back and submit him.”
This weekend’s UFC card is top-heavy fighters with a Liverpool connection. Darren Till headlines and a win could land Till another opportunity at UFC gold. But before the main card gets up and running, Pimblett’s stablemate and ‘big sister’ Molly McCann has the most important fight of her UFC tenure. Ji Yeon Kim with a win over McCann could signal the end of McCann’s run in the UFC.
McCann is currently on a two-fight losing streak and with this being the last fight on her UFC contract, it really is a do or die moment for McCann. But ‘Meatball’ has been here before in her life and career, and in these situations, she seems to reserve her best for moments like this.
Pimblett firmly believes his friend will leave Vegas with a much-needed victory:
“I know Molly is going to win, she is going to put it on her opponent. She knows what’s at stake and it is not as though Molly is fighting an easy opponent, she has got a tough opponent. We have seen her about the last few days, she cuts from 155 to make flyweight and that is a lot of weight for anyone to cut. Molly is going to get inside and put it on her like she did in London against Priscila Cachoeira.”
Pimblett has left his old party life behind him. The discipline he once lacked is there now. Physically and mentally Pimblett has become a man in recent times, a boy no more, this isn’t the Pimblett we once knew. Pimblett believes he is the next big star in the UFC, Vegas could be the start of something very special indeed.