Paddy Pimblett is back in training and ready for his Octagon return, and he can’t wait to test his skills against a fighter he considers a legend of the sport.

Pimblett takes on former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson on the main card of UFC 296, which takes place Saturday, December 16 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. And, after spending a year out recovering from triple ankle surgery, “The Baddy” is full of enthusiasm ahead of his impending Octagon return.

“It’s nice. I’ve been training again for a little bit, but I’ve finally got the OK to fight,” he told Edith Labelle backstage at Cage Warriors 160 in Manchester.

“I had three surgeries in one, basically. I had inner ligament reconstruction, outer ligament reconstruction, and something done to my CFL. I got my CFL repaired. It was a lot to get done in one go, but it’s all done and now I’ve had the OK to fight. So I’m getting back in there in December, and I cannot wait to fight again.”

Pimblett’s matchup with Tony Ferguson pits the rising star against a former interim beltholder who is looking to pick up his first win since his UFC 238 finish of Donald Cerrone in June 2019.

The Scouser admitted that he holds Ferguson in high regard, and said he’s looking forward to facing a fighter who has been a mainstay in the sport ever since he first started MMA.

“When I first started training in 2010, I think he was already in the UFC,” he recalled.

“I can remember watching Tony fight with normal shorts with sponsors on, before the Reebok or the Venum deal. So yeah, it’s going to be a privilege to share the cage with him. I know he’s on a losing streak, but it’s still Tony Ferguson, and I can’t wait to share the Octagon with him.”

Pimblett also paid respect to his upcoming opponent, but also stated that he’s entering December’s bout with a determination to make amends for his last performance at UFC 282, where he picked up a unanimous decision win over Jared Gordon.

“It’s gonna be the first time I’ve ever had anything like this,” he admitted.

“I’ve never fought a legend before, and it is my best opponent to date, definitely, and I can’t wait to get in there and put my skills on show and show everyone that, even though I’ve been off for a year, I’ve still made improvements over the last couple of months since I’ve been back in the gym training.

“I just can’t wait to make up for my performance last year in Vegas. I was injured last year, hurt my ankle in the fight and, as I say, I had to get three surgeries. But, ‘The Baddy 2.0’ is coming.”