MMA fans from all over Europe have been clamoring for Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett’s UFC debut ever since he launched a tirade at Conor McGregor during a post-fight interview after securing a regional title last April.
It feels as though ‘The Baddy’ is the first non-UFC fighter since McGregor to be followed so passionately by the European masses.
A local hero in his native Liverpool, Pimblett gets the opportunity to fight for the featherweight title in his hometown at Cage Warriors 78 this weekend, which will be beamed around the world on UFC Fight Pass.
Even though McGregor is the name that immediately springs to mind when you think of the European promotion’s title, the 21-year-old has promised the change that on Saturday night at the Echo Arena.
“I don’t really care that he’s held this title before,” Pimblett said at the mention of McGregor’s name.
“It’s one of those things that everyone else gets excited about, but I don’t think it matters who’s had it before me. This belt, I want to be the one who is remembered the most for holding it. When they think about the belt, they’re going to think about me, not him.”
It’s a special bond that Pimblett shares with his city. He even used one of Liverpool’s recent European Cup games as an opportunity to pick a fight with the Irishman, sitting a banner beside the pitch that read: “McGregor, you're getting smoked lad.”
Currently on a seven-fight win streak, the Next Generation Liverpool fighter hopes that obtaining the title on Saturday night will be his last step to the most coveted contract in MMA. And believing that will be the case, Pimblett wants to put on a show.
This Saturday @CageWarriors returns to #UFCFIGHTPASS with England's most exciting prospects at 4/1 PM ETPT, 9PM BST! pic.twitter.com/4sjGoodDtQ
— UFC Fight Pass (@UFCFightPass) September 7, 2016
“This is going to special,” he said of Saturday’s night’s trip to the Echo Arena. “This is going to be different from the last time I fought. I’ve personally sold about 700 tickets for the event; there’s a lot of interest in this fight in Liverpool.”
If a win over Johnny Frachey earns him an opportunity in the Octagon, he wants to make sure that the promotion visits the city on the Mersey, too.
“When I become a world champion I’m gonna get the UFC over to Liverpool for a Fight Night,” he said. “It’s going to be quick too because I know I’m going to blow the scene up.”
Although this is Pimblett’s third fight in five months, he seems completely unconcerned by the man who will stand across from him on Saturday, despite the Frenchman’s penchant for knockouts throughout his career.
“He’s won 10 of his last 12, so he’s improved a lot from where he was in his early career,” he said of Frachey, revealing some insight into his foe.
“It doesn’t really matter who they are or what their record is, they haven’t got a chance, have they? No one has ever got a chance against me.”
Pimblett has completely outclassed his recent opponent’s with his slick jiu-jitsu, which has seen him finish half of his professional outings by submission. For that reason, a lot of his opponents try to take him out on the feet as soon as they can, and “The Baddy” is expecting the same from Frachey.
“He’s going to be the same as all of the other tests, isn’t he? We already know he’s going to try and come in and knock my head off because that’s the only chance that he’s got,” Pimblett said. “And when he’s not able to do that, he’s going to quit.
“It’s going to be a fast finish. Between three and five minutes.”
Finally, Pimblett explained why either UFC Manchester or UFC Belfast would be an ideal debut for him if the promotion comes knocking at his door.
“Belfast is a more realistic, but Manchester would fine, too, because it’s just down the M62,” he laughed. “Belfast would be a good night out for all of the lads. I’ve got a lot of fans in Ireland, too, so it would be nice to put on a show for them.
“Belfast would give me a bit more time off after the last few quick turnarounds, so I think that would suit me down to the ground.”
Peter Carroll is a longtime MMA journalist who writes for the Irish Mirror, FIGHTLAND and SevereMMA.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PetesyCarroll