Quick Bit: MMA sensation Paddy Pimblett was in a scathing mood ahead of his fight with Jordan Leavitt at UFC London, taking aim at Rishi Sunak, internet trolls and Erling Haaland.
Even by Paddy Pimblett’s standards, the strength and breadth of his opinions left you dizzy ahead of his fight with Jordan Leavitt at UFC London on Saturday.
Politics, football, Jake Paul and Twitter trolls are all bluntly addressed in less time than a full-length UFC fight, which Pimblett is yet to experience after demolishing Luigi Vendramini on his debut last September and needing less than a round again to submit Rodrigo Vargas in London in March.
“I used to hate Gary Neville with a passion and I told him that,” Pimblett says when the devout Liverpool fan is asked about an endearing new interview in which he takes the Manchester United legend on a tour of his home city.
“He kissed the United badge at Anfield. But what a nice, sound fella he is, and all of his team — so professional.”
The niceties end there. “Rishi Sunak says he wants to be in charge of sorting the country out,” he seethes about the leadership contest to succeed the outgoing Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister.
“More and more people are eating out of food banks — it’s heat or eat for some families. What’s happening is absolutely despicable.
“He’s a multi, multi-millionaire — his [wife, Akshata Murty] is a billionaire — and he’s talking about sorting the economy out. It’s absolutely disgusting how much [prices] have gone up.
“Who was the chancellor, you divvy? Just do a general election and let’s vote them out. Eat sh*t, lad.”
Pimblett is a forthright character but appears far more riled than usual. Part of it is clearly down to his opponent on Saturday, Jordan Leavitt, an American southpaw with one defeat from 11 bouts who appears to have enraged his opponent by drawing headlines for saying that he will enact a twerk dance on Pimblett if he wins.
Pimblett responds by promising to perform a sex act on Leavitt, squat up and down on his head, split his face open with his elbows and “take his head home with me”.
“He’s an absolute idiot,” says Pimblett, offering a searing appraisal of “absolute crab” Leavitt’s record and abilities.
“My nan’s dead and she’d finish him. He’s just trying to get in my head, being a little weirdo like he is.
“But you can’t out-weird me; I’m weirder than anyone. I can’t wait to flatline him. I’m going to make him unconscious. He’s a nobody.”
Leavitt seems genuinely relaxed when he discusses Pimblett. “I’ve spoken about twerking a lot more than I ever thought I would in the last few months,” says the 27-year-old. “I’ve been on several other fighters’ vlogs, showing them how to twerk.
“It’s a twerking camp. We have a similar vibe, similar charisma. I say a lot of silly things. It got out of control but it’s on-message.
“If you separate all the flash from this fight, it’s not really very interesting at all. I don’t follow him on social media and I didn’t know about Paddy until his debut.
“I’m not starstruck and I don’t see him as a star. He fought some guys who fought some guys who had losing record.”
Leavitt loathes flying and appears more distracted by jet lag than taking on the best-known Englishman in the UFC.
“On paper, I’m not too interested in this match-up, to be honest,” he claims. “I’m too smart to make the mistakes a lot of his opponents have made.
“If I take him down, I’m not going to let him up. He’s not the most accurate striker. I’ve sparred with champions and title contenders and I’ve seen everything. I’ve never been dropped or hurt by anyone near my size.
“We’ve done a lot of the same things, me and Paddy, but I’ve done it without taking any damage. I’m kind of a fan of his interviews but it’s just work. Finish the fight, twerk, go home.”
Leavitt draws laughs when he sincerely questions how drunk English fans will be by 9 p.m. local time on fight night. Pimblett expects plenty to be “sloshed” for what he vows will be his final fight on UK shores for some time.
“This will be my last fight in the UK for a good few years, until we do Anfield,” he predicts. “After this, I’ll be on pay-per-view. I’ve had two fights and I’ve had more media than anyone this week.
“Everyone knows I’m the boy, the one getting the bums on seats. The UFC are losing too much money having me fighting on ESPN in the States.”
Rookie fighter and promoter Paul, who Pimblett calls a “clout-chaser”, will be waiting for him there, and the man with more than a million Instagram followers says Paul is just one of the respondents he can’t resist remonstrating with online.
“I’ve hit rock bottom in the past but now I’m here to stay,” Pimblett says, responding to the suggestion that he could be as adversely affected by fame as former champion Conor McGregor has been at times.
“When I was 19, 20, I was saying I was going to be the biggest MMA star on the planet. I’m proving people wrong and it gives me a fuzzy feeling, it makes my day.
“I love putting trolls in their places. I can’t help it. It’s crazy, the amount of abuse I get on Twitter.
“Instagram’s not bad now but I get abuse on Twitter. People say ‘you shouldn’t give them your time’ but I call them out.
“Once a day, there’s some horrible person calling Scousers victims. He knows what he’s talking about: it’s a Hillsborough jibe. If you want to talk a big game on the internet, you’re going to get punched in the face, simple as.”
Leavitt vows to set the pace in the fight, cope with the pressure and expose the “whole shtick” of Pimblett, which he believes is an attempt to hide insecurities with “bling bravado”.
Yet Pimblett certainly seems sure of himself. Before an abrupt exit, he wants to compare new Liverpool signing Darwin Nunez with Manchester City’s Erling Haaland.
“Nunez is going to score more,” he bristles, ending with an observation that he considers worthy of silencing the room.
“Haaland is always injured. Nunez isn’t. I saw a belting stat: guess who Nunez has scored more goals than in the Champions League knockout stage? Sergio Aguero.”
Originally found on Sporting News Read More