Few fighters have swaggered their way to a debut UFC win as Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett did so impressively in Las Vegas last weekend.
The 26-year-old has described himself as a marketer’s ‘wet dream’ and looked every inch the potential superstar many tip him to be with a KO of Luigi Vendramini.
From the bounce to the octagon, the care-free, chin-in-the-air onslaughts and first round finish, to his celebratory dance moves and typically entertaining interview afterwards, it went about as well as a the UFC’s marketing men – or anyone – could have thought up.
Paddy Pimblett stole the show with his performance in the cage and on the microphone
Luigi Vendramini (right) was rocked and finished by Pimblett in the first round of the fight
The Liverpool fighter captured the imagination of fans with his showmanship last weekend
Pimblett has been the blue-eyed boy of MMA for some time on the UK scene and twice turned down approaches from the UFC, preferring to improve his level in Cage Warriors.
There were trials and tribulations along the way, a young man enjoying the trappings of his success slightly too enthusiastically but he has learned from those mistakes. Pimblett insists the fame and fortune he is fast approaching will not derail his ambitions.
He told Sportsmail: ‘To be honest lad, it’s not the money it’s the fame that’s the next one to deal with as Cage Warriors gave me more money than I got for this UFC fight.
‘Years ago when I was 21 I let it all go to my head, thought I was better than I was, thought I was the best thing since sliced bread, thought I didn’t have to train.
‘But now I have just got fat for a week, I’ll be back in the gym on Monday, I’ve got my family, my fiancee around me and my gym family, that’s it.
‘I won’t let any bandwagon jumpers get on this time and coerce me into nights out just to help them. This is a selfish sport and I’m in this for me, simple as.’
Those mature decisions to resist the bright lights of the UFC were as much down to a desire to nurture his own talent as agreeing to the best offer on the table.
Pimblett (left) is known for his striking but put on a thrilling display of striking in Las Vegas
‘I’m glad I said no to the UFC back then in 2016 and 2018,’ he continued.
‘As I look back now, I’m glad I said no, because it wouldn’t have blown up like this and the wages Cage Warriors were giving me… I’ve got my own house now, I helped mum pay her mortgage off, my sister sort her kitchen out and on the UFC wages I wouldn’t have been able to do that.’
Pimblett’s ‘gym family’ as he calls them, includes Molly McCann who produced a brilliant, belligerent performance to win Fight of the Night honours.
McCann, Pimblett, Darren Till and Tom Aspinall all train in Liverpool and ‘The Baddy’ spoke about the city’s rich fighting pedigree.
‘The whole city had to fight to even still be here,’ he added. ‘My mum and dad, nan and grandma and grandad had to fight for the city to still be here when the government tried to manage decline, without us being the fighters that we are, we wouldn’t still be here now.
‘It’s just the way Scousers are, just born and bred to be fighters, the amount of boxers to come out of Liverpool, MMA fighters, high-level sports people, even singers.
The charismatic lightweight fighter wants to co-main a card returning to the UK this year
‘It’s just from our mentality, we fight through things, we don’t fold, we fight back against the establishment.’
Pimblett is renowned for his ground game so to win his debut fight in such spectacular fashion shows the number of weapons in his arsenal.
Even former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge was impressed, calling for Dana White to put on a show at Anfield and vowing to buy front row seats.
Sturridge was known for his signature dance move celebration and Pimblett carved a few shapes of his own for the cameras last Saturday night.
‘They’re just the mad dances that I do on a night out, when you’re in a nightclub at 4am. The dances are just stuff me and mates do taking the p**s,’ he says, and the passionate Liverpool fan promised to break out Sturridge’s trademark if that big night at Anfield ever comes: ‘Yeah the Studgy! I’ll have to whip his dance out if he’s there in the front row.
‘I don’t know where or when the fight will be but I think Dana wants to come to London. After my performance the other night, I think he’s going to want to come back to the UK. I don’t mind anywhere, Liverpool, Manchester, London, even Newcastle.’
So what next? Pimblett was given a six-month medical suspension but should be back in action soon after his thumb heals up and doctor’s give the all clear.
Pimblett (left) took Vendramini’s (right) best shot but he recovered quickly to earn a finish
The lightweight exhibited some of his dance moves in the octagon at the Apex Arena to finish
He is chasing a co-main event spot if the UFC put him on a card by the end of the year.
‘I’m not delusional, I know for a fact they won’t give me a top 10, 15 (opponent) but it doesn’t matter who you put in front of me, I’m always going to believe I’ll win, I’ll take things slowly,’ he added.
‘I’m not getting paid enough yet to fight top 10 or 15, let’s just hope lad, late November early December. Get me in a co-main event slot and I’ll blow the roof off the place.
‘Let’s have a full arena for my walkout and he’ll see what the star power is. My name is on everyone’s lips.’