You can nearly hear Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett’s frustration on the end of the phone line when I ask him the same question he’s heard consistently for the past 18 months, ‘have you heard anything from the UFC?’
“You know I can’t say anything about that. There might have been some contact, but I guess you’ll never know,” he says.
“For me, I want to fight in front of my home crowd before I go to the UFC anyway. I think it goes without saying that I want to give my home fans a show.”
Although he will get the opportunity to fight for the Cage Warriors featherweight title in his beloved Liverpool on Saturday night, Pimblett’s turnaround seems drastic.
‘The Baddy’ came in grossly overweight for his last meeting with Teddy Violet. Having been hospitalized two weeks out from the contest, Pimblett was debating pulling out of the bout. Despite his pre-fight injury, the 21-year-old won the fight with a second-round submission.
After such a dramatic camp, Pimblett unwound following the fight only to get a call that revealed his services would be needed by Cage Warriors again, in a little over four weeks.
“I’m just crackin’ on, lad. I may as well get on with it, you know what I mean?” he tells me from his coach’s house where he has been living in an effort to make weight for his championship showdown in his hometown on Saturday night.
“Obviously, I would’ve liked a little bit more time in between the fights. After the last fight, I wasn’t focusing on my diet, I had been on a really strict diet, so I ended up eating shit for a few weeks. Then I was told four and half weeks out from this fight that it was happening. Now I’m back to the strict diet.”
It seems strange that the promotion would book Pimblett for an event that is relying so heavily on him, without consulting him first. Although he admits the weight cut has him a bit out of sorts, Pimblett is confident that he will be firing on all cylinders on Saturday night.
“I guess you’ve just got to get on with it. I like to stay active, but this is my third fight in five months. The weight cut has me a bit down at the minute, but that happens, I know I’m gonna be all good on Saturday. I know I’m gonna be happy come fight night. I’ll have a big smile on my face and I’ll be ready to go.”
The most active fighters in the world would feel the load of three contests in five months. Given Pimblett’s apparent proximity to a UFC contract, there is an added toll considering the speed bump that could occur on the back of a loss, regardless of his seven-fight win streak.
Pimblett has never hesitated when speaking his mind, and even before his fight with Johnny Frachey at the Echo Arena, he has no problem admitting that he is looking forward to some time off from his hectic schedule.
“You need some time off for your own sanity, to be honest. Honestly, you put so much love into this sport that it makes you hate it. If you don’t have times where you hate it, you’re not doing it right.”
That being said, our conversation takes place during the most emotional time for MMA fighters, days out from a fight when they are cutting the last crucial and most tedious pounds to make weight.
“At this stage it’s horrible, but it’s not so bad because I know that I can’t eat anything. You can’t have any shit, but maybe two weeks ago I would’ve had a tiny nibble. They’re the hard bits when everyone is sat around eating food and you’re trying your best not to touch it but it just gets you by the balls.”
Should he get through Frachey on Saturday night, Pimblett seems absolutely undeniable in his claims for a UFC contract.
It seems fitting that the Liverpudlian’s last move before joining the world’s flagship promotion would be claiming a belt that Conor McGregor once held, considering his first burst of popularity outside of the UK came with a video directed at the current UFC champion.
While Pimblett seems to be the most popular fighter outside of the UFC by a long shot in the UK, there have been others from the region whipped up by Zuffa in the last few months.
‘The Baddy’ is clearly being tight-lipped about his situation ahead of Saturday’s title fight, but when I ask him about his fellow countrymen getting the call up before him, he suggests that I shouldn’t be so sure that they had.
“Have they been picked up before me, though?” he asks. “That’s the question. Have they been picked up before me or have I already been given the call?
“I guess you’ll have to wait and see. I guess no one knows. There are all types of things that could be happening behind the scenes.”
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