LAS VEGAS – Paddy Pimblett has been in the limelight for quite some time. Over the years, he’s been repeatedly asked when a step up to the UFC would come.
The questions finally have an answer. The time is now. Pimblett (16-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his promotional debut Saturday at UFC Fight Night 191 when he fights Luigi Vendramini (9-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) in a lightweight bout on the main card of the ESPN+ streamed event from the UFC Apex.
“It was always meant to be, wasn’t it?” Pimblett told MMA Junkie during Wednesday’s media day. “Everyone knew I’d eventually end up being here so it wasn’t a question of ‘if’ I was going to be in the UFC – it was ‘when.’ The time has finally arrived. I’m here and I’m here to make a statement and let everyone know who the boy is.”
Finally on the UFC roster, Pimblett, 26, thinks the timing could not be better. On two occasions prior to his signing, he was offered UFC deals. Both times he turned them down. He wasn’t ready. It was evident to him at the time and it’s even more evident now.
“When they first offered it to me in 2016, I was still fighting at featherweight,” Pimblett said. “I was still very immature. I wasn’t professional at all, still a child partying all the time. When they offered it to me again in 2018, I turned them down the second time, I wasn’t even a proper lightweight then. I was still a boy fighting men. I didn’t even have a proper (strength and conditioning) team.
“I’ve got a ridiculous S&C coach now, Paul Reed. I guess you’ll see on Saturday night the physique of me. I’m a different animal because of him. I’m an absolutely different breed. I’m a specimen now. Back then, I was just a fighter. I was going off heart and skills and talent. Now, I’m an athlete. It’s going to be unbelievable Saturday night when I put it on Luigi and go on with it a nice bonus.”
During his time on the European MMA scene, Pimblett grew a passionate and loyal fanbase domestically. His Cage Warriors bouts would bring a raucous crowd of supporters – and a scene like the one he thought he’d have in his UFC debut. However, the card that was originally expected to take place in London has moved to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. A bit bummed by the move, Pimblett sees a silver lining in being able to experience the heart of the UFC first-hand.
“It’s cool to be in Vegas, obviously,” Pimblett said. “I did want it to be obviously in London. It would’ve been nice. It would’ve been unbelievable energy walking out to my walkout. The crowd would’ve went bananas. But being here is great. I can’t wait to go to the PI later. That would be the first ever time I’ve been.
“All the proper UFC officials are here and all the head honchos. They all want to see the new cash cow, their new main man. I’m here to headlock Dana and Hunter and Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard. Yes, I’m going to get them all in a headlock later and let them know who the new kid on the block is.
Check out Pimblett’s full media day interview in the video above.
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