The London-based organization Cage Warriors has produced some real MMA powerhouses over its 20-year stretch. Even before getting a digital broadcasting deal with the UFC, it has been a source of talent for the company for a long time, bringing about such stars as Darren Till, Michael Bisping, Tom Aspinal, Dan Hardy and, of course, The Notorious.
The most recent young star is Patrick Pimblett, better-known as Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett. He has a record of 18-3 with eight of those wins coming by submission and six by knockout, so the hype is well-deserved.
On top of being a world-class martial artist, Paddy Pimblett has an explosive personality in and out of the cage. You can see him on Barstool Sports going crazy for the Liverpool Football Club or catch him in the cage calling out Mark Zuckerberg after the Vargas win. The boisterous Baddy is always deserving of some attention.
Despite achieving massive stardom in the United Kingdom, Paddy Pimblett had a peculiar voyage to the UFC. By age 21, he had already claimed, defended and lost the Cage Warriors featherweight title. In doing so, he grew his name and gained a lot of experience quickly.
He even had aspirations of becoming a two-division champ like Connor McGregor. The dream was within reach before he suffered a loss to Soren Bok in a close match for the lightweight strap.
Paddy Pimblett is interesting, genuine and talented. His stardom was not a surprise to anybody. Especially Paddy. The confidence he has in himself has been turned into quotes for a long time — calling himself such things as “The new cash cow” or “A marketer's wet dream.”
It does still strike one as odd, however, to learn that Paddy Pimblett turned down the UFC not once but twice before officially landing on ostensibly agreeable terms. Nonetheless, he bet on himself when he turned down the UFC on both occasions, but you wouldn’t be unmindful for thinking that the goal of all fighters is to become the UFC champion of their respective division.
With regard to public opinion, the UFC has the most respected talent pool, the largest audience and the most prestigious title of all the major organizations — despite having some of the worst pay rates for most unranked fighters. Pimblett has been quoted saying, “I always knew it wasn’t a question of if the UFC would sign me but when.”
The story goes that after Paddy Pimblett won the Cage Warriors featherweight title, the UFC extended an offer, but he was hesitant and decided to weigh all options before making a call. He had dinner with Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan in London, where the Irishman bested what the UFC had on offer.
The illustrious Ultimate Fighting Championship has always suffered from the same relatively small show/win amounts for fighters recently added to the roster, and a more recent blunder is removing the ability to get sponsorships on their fight kit. Making a living fighting guys in your underwear is hard enough. So it’s no surprise that lower pay coupled with Paddy perhaps not feeling he was ready, yet still confident the offer would remain open until he felt he was, would lead to yet another decline of a UFC contract.
Finally, he strung together a two-fight win streak and followed that up with a surge in confidence and a new physique. Paddy Pimblett penned a deal with Dana White and the gang. Later, however, Pimblett claimed the wait wasn’t worth it because he had to take a massive pay cut just to sign on. I mentioned earlier that the UFC has rough onboarding procedures — so much so that lots of fighters make more money out of the octagon and don’t mind talking about it, Paddy included.
Nevertheless, Paddy Pimblett has blazed his way into the lightweight division with two first-round finishes: one TKO and one submission. One even earned him his first “Fight of the Night” bonus, of which he’s promised many more and even though we would all like to see the conclusion to the Ilia Topuria hand-sanitizer dust-up.
In his next bout, he'll take on Jordan "The Monkey King" Leavitt Saturday, July 23rd!
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