Paddy Pimblett is heading back to Las Vegas for UFC 282, where the English lightweight says he’s ready to steal the show at the UFC’s final pay-per-view event of 2022.
Pimblett has been a smash hit in the octagon since his arrival from UK promotion Cage Warriors in 2021, and his star has gone stratospheric off the back of a hat-trick of thrilling bouts that saw him claim finishes of Luigi Vendramini, Kazula Vargas and Jordan Leavitt, with each win earning “The Baddy” a Performance of the Night bonus.
Pimblett’s octagon debut came in Las Vegas in the more intimate setting of the UFC Apex, before he showed the world his star power with two blockbuster showings at The O2 Arena in London. Now Pimblett is heading back to Sin City, but this time he’ll be strutting his stuff at the T-Mobile Arena, where he plans on putting on a show once again.
“Oh, I cannot wait. You know me. I love getting in there and having a scrap, and (this will be) no different,” Pimblett told Cage Warriors’ Edith Labelle.
“I’m going to blow the roof off the T-Mobile Arena. I am the people’s main event, and everyone knows that.”
Pimblett will take on Jared Gordon in a bout that represents a step up in experience for the Liverpudlian, with the American having twice as many fights on his record than Pimblett’s most recent opponent, Leavitt. And, ahead of the bout, Pimblett spoke of his respect for his opposite number as he prepares to face a fighter who shares his desire to raise awareness of mental health issues.
“Jared Gordon, he’s a tough fighter, you know what I mean?” he said.
“I like him as a person, as well. He’s not an idiot. He doesn’t act tough or nothing. He’s just himself, and that’s what I like.
“I think when we both fight each other, we’re going to raise awareness for mental health and stuff, because he’s had tough times himself, much tougher than me personally. Much tougher times.”
Pimblett’s first appearance in Vegas saw him arrive in Nevada on short notice, with only a quick turnaround from arrival to weigh-in day. It made for a tricky week for the 27-year-old as he worked hard to ensure he was ready for his eagerly-anticipated octagon debut.
“Literally last time I got there at like 1am on the Wednesday,” he recalled.
“I was there for two days and had to make weight. It was a bit of a rough one, but this time I’m going on the 1st, I’m going nine days earlier, get acclimatised, get used to the time difference.”
But, once fight night rolled around, he made sure he put on a show for the fans in attendance, even though it was a small crowd. But, whether it’s the UFC Apex or the T-Mobile Arena, Pimblett said he’ll bring the same energy, regardless.
“My debut was in the Apex in front of about 200 people, but it was still loud when I walked out,” he said.
“But I know for a fact when I walk out at the T-Mobile the noise is going to be deafening. It’s going to be a special walkout, just like it is in The O2. Jared’s American, but I know everyone’s going to be there cheering me on. I’m going to get the loudest pop of the night, I know that for a fact.
“I’m coming to take over. All the Yanks know this. All the Yanks are Baddy fans, and “The Baddy” is coming to take over. This is just another step on a big journey, and this is just the beginning … I cannot wait to shine once again!”
As for the matchup itself, Pimblett said he’s hoping to claim a first-round victory, but he has also set former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira’s win over Gordon as a yardstick he’s aiming for.
“I think I’m better than him everywhere,” he said of Gordon.
“I’ve got better striking, better wrestling, better jiu-jitsu, and I just don’t see where he’s going to beat me.
“He’s getting finished in the first round. I think I’m going to knock him out, to be honest. Or rock him and then he’ll shoot in a sloppy takedown and I’ll submit him off it. That’s what I see coming.
“If he gets out of the first round I’ll be sorely disappointed. Charles Oliveira finished him in 90 seconds, so I’m going for something similar.”
If he’s successful, we can expect more celebratory dancing from “The Baddy,” though he admitted that his wild moves after his big wins aren’t pre-planned. He just goes with the moment.
“You know me, it just comes out!” he grinned.
“I don’t mean to do any of these dances, they just happen! So when I’m in the heat of the moment and I’m celebrating – because I know in Vegas I can’t jump on the cage, because I’ll get a fine – I’ll do something. You know me, I can’t help it!”