Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett is a name on the tip of every MMA enthusiast’s lips due to his meteoric rise to stardom in the UFC. But just how far can he go in search of the ultimate prize? Olly Scott assesses the Liverpool fighter’s chances. 

His rise began in Cage Warriors where, at the age of just 21, he won the featherweight championship against Johnny Frachey. Finishing him via TKO in the first round, the UFC knew there was star potential in the Scouser. They were keen to sign him as soon as possible but Pimblett was in no rush as he wanted to develop his skills before entering the world’s most prestigious MMA organisation. After he declined two deals, UFC eventually signed Pimblett in 2021 in what was one of the most highly anticipated acquisitions in the sport’s history.

With hype and attention also comes the pressure of staying on top but this is something that doesn’t faze The Baddy. In three fights in the UFC, he has had three finishes.

His debut KO on Luigi Vendramini grabbed the attention of the combat sports world as a star was clearly in the making. Facing adversity early on in that fight from a ferocious Vendramini hook, Pimblett showed great heart and recovery to get the first-round finish.

Both his next two wins came via a rear-naked choke submission on opponents Rodrigo Vargas and Jordan Leavitt. Being a 1st degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu many were keen to see how his ground game would fare against the world’s best and he showcased just how good it is. Thriving with confidence and predicting to finish his opponent in each fight the pressure doesn’t get to Pimblett, a skill in itself which could take him far.

The next Conor McGregor?

Often compared as the next Conor McGregor, the two definitely share similarities. From predicting outcomes of their fights to being masters on the microphone, the trajectory of their careers is very similar.

Dana White and the matchmakers recognise this and aren’t in any rush to match him against the top 15. Pimblett has also gone on to say he won’t fight a ranked opponent until he signs a new and improved contract with the organisation.

Coming into his prime years as a fighter at 27, The Baddy is gaining as much experience as he can to prepare himself for the big step up in competition. Focusing on building a credible win streak before facing some of the tougher opponents in the division is certainly the smartest strategy for his career.

Just because he is one of the most popular fighters in the organisation doesn’t mean he should be faced against elite competitors yet such as Charles Oliveira, Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler. Too much too soon could result in him suffering defeat which would affect his future appeal as a main draw.

Due to fighting low ranked opponents it is hard to gauge just how far Pimblett can go but one thing for sure is he is a seasoned mixed martial artist with some of the best jiu-jitsu the division has to offer. His stand-up game is good but having been rocked in two out of his three UFC bouts he will need to sharpen his defence. If he can add composure and patience to his style, he will become a dangerous fight for anybody in the lightweight division.

It’s fair to say the popularity of the Liverpudlian has left some lightweight contenders envious. The likes of Ilia Topuria and Terrance McKinney have called the fighter out numerous times on social media, but Pimblett doesn’t bite on their bait. You can’t blame contenders calling his name as a win over someone of Pimblett’s popularity would boost their careers massively. However, when commentating on the recent Cage Warriors card he admitted he is struggling to find his next opponent.

“I’m just waiting for an opponent. I’m just waiting for an opponent to step up and sign the dotted line,” he told Cage Warriors.

McKinney responded to the news, saying: “I guess they can’t find anymore easy wins for him.”

If The Baddy is going to make a case for breaking into the top 15, he needs to be fighting the competition around him. This means fighting a harder opponent each fight and someone like McKinney could be a great opportunity for him to make another statement.

The Liverpool FC fan has all the attributes to make it to the very top and achieve UFC gold as long as he doesn’t get complacent. His confidence is unmatched and his overall ability inside an octagon is very promising. Granted he isn’t rushed into big competition too early on, he will be able to build a win streak credible enough to compete for the belt in the next few years.

Pimblett has said he is looking to get a fight booked for December’s pay per view card, UFC 282 in Las Vegas. Having previously only competed in UFC fight nights Dana White has decided that he is now a main card PPV star. It will be interesting to follow Pimblett’s journey and see just how far he can take his career as he works towards the ultimate prize.