Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett could take a giant leap under the bright lights of Las Vegas on Saturday night at UFC 282.
His fight with Jared Gordon has been elevated to the co-main event and is a huge platform for him to showcase his talent.
While the 27-year-old’s UFC career is still in its infancy, three flashy finishes in a row and the charisma to match on the mic have propelled Pimblett to huge popularity.
Paddy Pimblett prepares for his clash with Jared Gordon this Saturday night at UFC 282
Pimblett has had a fantastic year so far with two wins, both finishing, in London
Dana White and the UFC know they have a true star on their hands, and perhaps the only fighter on the current roster who could ever hold the crossover appeal of Conor McGregor.
But that shine can be immediately dampened by a defeat from Gordon, who is seen by bookmakers as the slight underdog.
Pimblett has ambitions beyond his 34-year-old American opponent and predicts a quick night’s work.
He told UFC Countdown, “He’s just not on my level and I’m going to finish Jared Gordon.
“He’ll get done in the first round and everyone will finally realize who the f***ing boy is.”
And the 27-year-old lightweight then added to UFC Embedded, “I can’t wait to put on a show for everyone at the T-Mobile Arena. I’m gonna make everyone stand up and scream my name, blow the roof off like me.
“When it comes to MMA, there are levels. People think I’m a hype train and the UFC is pressuring me.
“Just a little breakdown of this crab I’m battling. He tries to fight his way to victory. I’m trying to knock you out with one shot, and that’s what I’m going to do.
“Jared Gordon, I respect you. I like you as a person. But you’re not on my level as a fighter, mate, and I’m here to take your chin home.”
The fighter from Liverpool has defeated all his opponents in the UFC so far
“I’m a better striker. I have better jiu-jitsu. I can wrestle better. I’ll have the whole crowd behind me.
He’ll say, ‘What’s going on here? We are in America and everyone supports him. But he’s a good fighter. He is. But like I said, there are levels in this game.’
But Michael Bisping has urged Pimblett not to take Gordon for granted. The American has won four of his last five and is certainly no slouch.
He is a step up in class from Jordan Leavitt and Rodrigo Vargas, whom Pimblett defeated by sword in London this year.
And the ex-middleweight champion Bisping said on his own Youtube Channel: “I think it’s a harder matchup than what Paddy thinks.”
“I think Paddy may be underestimating him. When I say I underestimate him, I don’t mean he takes it easy, and he kicks back in training, and he doesn’t push himself to the limit, and so on.
“Paddy has eyes to be champion. Paddy is pushing himself to the limit as the opponent right now is not Jared Gordon. The opponent is the mission. The opponent is this journey, this wave he wants to ride to become a UFC champion, a legend in the sport, a Hall of Famer, and of course retire with millions and millions of dollars in the bank. Like I said, be a legend.
Jared Gordon is looking forward to an ‘action-packed meeting’ with the Liverpool native
Pimblett can take his status to another level with a win in the co-main event in Las Vegas
“He’s not underestimating or undertraining, I should say, but he would be underestimating mentally,” Bisping continued. “He says he’s going to knock him out in the first round. I do not know. I honestly don’t think he’ll knock him out in the first round, but this is going to be a tough fight. Jared Gordon isn’t easy.’
And while Gordon respects Pimblett’s ability, he also sees flaws that he can exploit. He told the UFC, “He’s going for it, he’s not scared, he’s funky, but he’s also got a lot of holes. I’ve been working to exploit those holes and that’s what’s going to happen.
“I know I’m technically the better fighter, I know I’m the better fighter, but he’s unpredictable so I just have to be careful.
“I see it’s gritty at first and then it starts to fade, and then I just smother it with pressure on the feet, pressure on top.”
Given Pimblett’s rounded ability on the feet and on the ground, it will be fascinating to see where the fight goes.
Pimblett remains undefeated since signing with the UFC and wants to go 4-0
At 27 years old, he is still learning and developing all the time with bigger tests ahead and the likes of Islam Makhachev still a long way off.
But it will be harder for Pimblett’s detractors to make their arguments if he thwarts Gordon as he predicts.
It’s not a gilded path or red carpet that the UFC has rolled out for their budding star. Lightweight is a division teeming with sharks, but Saturday could show where Pimblett measures up among the big fish.