Paddy Pimblett’s UFC debut earlier this month was eye-catching to say the least.
From the haircut to the post-fight interview via a first-round victory he had promised, ‘The Baddy’ was simply box office.
Aged 26, the Englishman has vowed to “take over” the UFC, describing himself as “the new cash cow” and “the main man on the roster”.
This week he appears as a guest on MOTDx, picking a Liverpool XI of 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 much more.’If I’d have signed to UFC years ago, it would have ended in tears’
Though global attention is a new thing for Pimblett, he has long been hyped in the fight community, particularly on his home patch of Merseyside.
In 2016, aged 21, he won the Cage Warriors featherweight belt, which had previously been held by the legendary Conor McGregor. It set high expectations.
He has had ups and downs in his career, though, including losing the title to Nad Narimani in his home city in 2017.
And he twice turned down the opportunity to fight in the UFC before finally accepting this year.
Does he feel the decision to wait was vindicated by his first-round defeat of Brazil’s Luigi Vendramini?
“Everything got timed perfectly,” he says confidently, adding: “If I’d have signed years ago, it would have ended in tears.
“I know my head won’t fall off when I get a bit of dough and I get a bit of fame. I did that when I won that first world title at 21 and started thinking I was the boy.”
‘The fact it wasn’t a flawless win made it even better’
Pimblett has been seen as a grappler in the past – but he showed on his UFC debut that he can box too.
And his celebration – shouting “who can’t punch?” to those outside the octagon – indicated it was a point he wanted to prove.
Teddy Atlas, who worked with former boxing world champions Barry McGuigan and Alexander Povetkin, was among those to praise the way Pimblett recovered from an early Vendramini shot to punch his way to victory.
It was something Pimblett cherished.
“He’s a legend,” he says. “When people like that are giving you credit, it feels great.
“The fact it wasn’t flawless made it even better for me – that’s just my career. I always say I need to get punched in the face to get woken up.”
And that brash style is all part of the game for Pimblett.
“I can’t help it,” he says. “Even in the gym my coaches are always telling me to keep my chin down, but I just get into scraps.
“I enjoy punching people in the face and getting punched in the face – and I know people like to watch that as a show. I’ll continue to do what I do.”