Paddy Pimblett’s UFC debut earlier this month was eye-catching to say the least.
From the hairstyle to the post-fight interview to a first-round victory he promised, ‘The Baddy’ was simply at the box office.
The 26-year-old Englishman swore to “take control” of the UFC, describing himself as “the new cash cow” and “the main man on the list”.
This week he appears as a guest on MOTDx, picking a Liverpool XI from the best players he’s seen.
Before that, we caught up with him to talk about his long-awaited UFC debut, calling people “sausages” and “lizards,” why loyalty is so important to him, and so much more.
“If I had signed to the UFC years ago it would have ended in tears”
Although the global attention is new to Pimblett, he has long been in the spotlight in the fighting community, especially on his home ground in Merseyside.
In 2016, at age 21, he won the Cage Warriors featherweight belt, which was previously held by the legendary Conor McGregor. This created high expectations.
He has had some ups and downs in his career, however, including losing the title to Nad Narimani in his hometown in 2017.
And he twice turned down the opportunity to fight in the UFC before finally accepting this year.
Does he feel that the decision to wait was justified by his first round loss to Brazilian Luigi Vendramini?
“Everything has synchronized perfectly,” he says confidently, adding: “If I had signed years ago, it would have ended in tears.
“I know my head won’t fall when I have some cash and some glory. I did that when I won that first world title at 21 and started to think I was. was the boy. “
“The fact that it wasn’t a clear win made it even better”
Pimblett has been considered a grappler in the past – but he showed in his UFC debut that he can box too.
And his celebration – shouting “who can’t knock?” to those outside the octagon – indicated that was a point he wanted to prove.
Teddy Atlas, who worked with former boxing world champions Barry McGuigan and Alexander Povetkin, was among those who praised how Pimblett recovered from a first Vendramini shot to fight his way to victory.
It was something Pimblett cherished.
“He’s a legend,” he says. “When people like that give you credit, it feels good.
“The fact that it wasn’t perfect made it even better for me – it’s just my career. I always say I need a punch in the face to wake me up.”
And that brash style is part of the game for Pimblett.
“I can’t help it,” he said. “Even at the gym, my coaches always tell me to keep my chin down, but I’m just crumbling.
“I like punching people in the face and getting punched in the face – and I know people like to watch that as a show. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.”
Every day is a cheat day right now
Pimblett was in the best shape of his life before his UFC debut, but he loves treats – and he’s been indulging in sweet things since his fight.
“You want to see the food I’ve put away,” he said.
“I think I ate about 5-6,000 calories a day, maybe even 7-8,000 calories, went out for a meal twice a day, then ate ice cream, waffles bubbles and brownies. “
It is adamant, however, that the healthy routine will start again soon.
“I’m going to fight again before the end of the year, so as long as I give myself time to reduce the weight, that’s fine,” he says.
jokes about her hair
Pimblett didn’t have to look far to see the impact the UFC fighting had on his profile.
His Instagram account was deleted before the fight a week after arguing with a follower, and since creating a new one he’s noticed new interest.
“One fight and I have over 600,000 followers,” he says. “At the start of the fight week, I was over 30,000, if that.”
A slew of memes – many of them on her hair – have also poured in.
What does Pimblett think of all this?
“I love it,” he said. “What made me laugh the most was someone said I looked like a 15th century peasant who had survived a harsh winter. This one tickled me.”
Calling people “lizards” and “sausages”
Another aspect of Pimblett’s character that may have won him over to new audiences is his love of silly slurs.
Asked what he thinks about YouTuber turned boxer Jake Paul, Pimblett called it a “sausage”.
When asked by UFC broadcaster Megan O’Livi which fighter he wanted to face next, he responded by calling Instagram, saying, “Give me back, you lizards.”
O’Livi adopted the term herself.
“I was laughing out loud when I saw she posted this,” Pimblett said.
Lizards, sausages… what does it all mean?
“Scouers just say weird things, don’t they?” he says. “I love weird slurs like ‘sausage’ or ‘mushroom’.
“It doesn’t even make much sense to say to someone, ‘You are a mushroom.'”
“We take care of our own”
Pimblett has trained in the same gym, with the same team, since he was a teenager.
It’s the same with his personal life. He has been with his fiancee, originally from the same area of Liverpool, for 10 years.
“From my bedroom window in my mom’s, you can see my girlfriend’s mom’s bathroom window,” he says.
“It’s like six doors down. And now we have our own house together, just around the corner.”
It’s all about community.
“This is what we do in this city,” he says. “We take care of our own.”