Liverpool’s Paddy Pimblett will put respect to one side as he prepares to “eat” lightweight legend Tony Ferguson at UFC 296.

‘The Baddy’ was in high spirits training in Next Generation MMA as he prepares for his biggest challenge yet against Ferguson in Las Vegas next weekend (December 16).

The UFC superstar sets his sights on a statement making victory by defeating ‘El Cucuy’ in quick fashion as he predicted: “If I don’t blast him straight away and knock him out then, yeah, I predict a submission finish.

“I’m just gonna eat him.”

Paddy Pimblett watching his Next Gen teammates

Pimblett sees the fight as an incredible challenge that came as a surprise after online speculation. He said: “It was mad to be honest, there was a fake fight card getting sent around of McGregor V Chandler, Sean O’Malley and someone on it and then me and Tony.

“So the amount of times I got asked ‘are you fighting Tony Ferguson’ I thought ‘come on lad that fight card is blag.’ Then I got a contract through like four weeks later saying Tony Ferguson’s name on it so it was a bit of a mad one.”

The Scouse fighter looks to extend his streak to 5-0 in the UFC against Ferguson, who is nearing the end of his storied career after fighting in the promotion since he won The Ultimate Fighter in 2011.

Ferguson has been on a downward spiral since he was defeated by Justin Gaethje in 2020. That loss sent him on a six fight losing streak against the toughest competitors in the world.

Pimblett is showing a lot of respect for his opponent but he called the bout a ‘loss-loss’ situation for himself as he said: “Beneil Dariush could not finish him, Gaethje had to beat him up for five rounds to finish him. Bobby Green submitted him though, that’s how you know he is on his way out.

“That’s why the fight is a lose-lose for me. When I win people are going to be like ‘he was finished anyway’. If somehow he miraculously beats me it will be like ‘oh he has been beat by a washed up Tony.’ It’s one of them lad, you just need to realise I am still fighting a very dangerous opponent, and I have to get him out of there.”

Mersey Sport Live’s Darragh Haughian shares a joke with Paddy Pimblett

Pimblett admitted that he looked up to Ferguson throughout the years. He said: “I feel bad because I loved watching him, I looked up to him for years but it’s what they say when your heroes become your rivals, that’s what’s happening.”

He reiterated that this match coming together makes him feel honoured as he spoke about the legacy of the former Interim Lightweight champion:

“It’s an honour and a pleasure to get in the cage and fight with Tony Ferguson. I want to finish him in the first though because no one has. Michael Chandler did it in the second, Gaethje in the fifth, Bobby Green was the third. So that’s the plan, go out and finish him in the first.”

It is a year to the day that Pimblett has been out of action (December 11, 2022). He faced Jared Gordon in the co-main event of UFC 282 where he won by a unanimous decision. However, controversy surrounded the contest, with some fans and pundits alike questioning whether he won the fight.

Pimblett said: “Some people did and some people didn’t defend me but people like Kenny Florian who have a brain watched it and thought I WON.”

The Liverpool fighter is motivated to get back on track and continue his undefeated streak in the UFC and says he has enjoyed a successful camp: “Everything’s going fine. Sparring has been perfect, strength and conditioning has been going perfect. My weight is sound. I just can’t wait to go in there and put on a show for everyone.”

Paddy ‘The Baddy Pimblett has enjoyed a good camp heading into UFC 296

The stacked card will see Birmingham’s Leon Edwards defend his Welterweight title along with Ireland’s Ian Machado Garry.

Pimblett V Ferguson will undoubtedly blow the roof of the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as UFC 296 rounds off an incredible 2023 for the company on December 16.