Every so often a fighter comes along who embodies their city in a way that very few others do. Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett (14-2-0) is one of those fighters. Pimblett lives and breathes his city. He is Liverpool.
Pimblett has been synonymous with Cage Warriors for such a long period of time that it’s hard to believe that he’s just 23 years old. Since making his debut for the promotion as an 18-year-old bantamweight, he has gone on to perform under the Cage Warriors banner 11 times, capturing the featherweight title along the way, building an army of fans across the country and becoming, for many people, the face of Liverpool MMA.
On Saturday, the Scouser will look to add a second belt to his already impressive record as he takes on Søren Bak for the vacant Cage Warriors lightweight crown. In his corner will be an army of locals, all screaming for their boy to defeat ‘The Viking’ and claim the belt for their city.
I caught up with Paddy to talk about ‘that’ triangle, preparing to face Søren Bak, fighting in front of his home fans at the Echo Arena and what the future might hold for ‘The Baddy’.
Tom Mulligan – I know you’re probably sick of being asked about this now but talk me through how it felt to get that win over Savvidis back in February after being away from the cage for so long.
Paddy Pimblett – obviously having had 10 months off, losing and then having a scheduled fight buy not being able to fight it was boss getting back in the cage, even just being in there but then when I got the win and celebrating with my family and my mates and my team it was special, it was a boss night.
The finish, everyone mentions, it was just one of them for me, it’s not really out of the ordinary because I just throw them up in the gym and catch them all the time. I don’t just catch them on mad night’s like that, I was doing them leading up to the fight. Everything like that’s always worked on.
TM – Off the back of that win you get the chance to become a two weight world champion against Søren Bak. Coming back from your time off was that always the plan?
PP – Yeah getting the lightweight belt was always the plan. If I hadn’t had the time off I would probably have fought for the lightweight belt straight away.
Now I’m back and ready to fight anyone. People think Bak is a big test, I don’t think he is. I know he’s a tough opponent but I know I’m going to finish him. I know he won’t last more than two rounds with me.
TM – So you’re confident you can get Bak out of there before letting it go to the judges? How do you see that finish coming for you?
PP – Yeah I am to be honest, I’m confident I’m gonna finish him. I wouldn’t want to leave it in the hands of the judges with some of the decisions being made, especially my mate Ellis recently. I’m never gonna leave it in the hands of the judges again, the chances of getting robbed are going up and up and up, it’s crazy.
Soren Bak won’t last five rounds with me. He struggles to do three rounds. He’s just gonna be shooting in for take downs and not getting them, he’s gonna get frustrated. He’s gonna keep shooting in and shooting in and not getting them.
I’ll finish him whenever I see fit. When he’s tired and I’m beating him up. I could take him down, beat him up on top, I could pull guard and submit him or I’ll knock him out on the feet.
I can beat Søren Bak where ever I want to beat him.
TM – Obviously the fight is going to be in your back yard, how much does it mean to you to have this fight happen in Liverpool?
PP – It’s nice for me, you know, everyone’s there, everyone gets to come and it’s no hassle for them. Like I’ve said before, it’s a privilege for me.
Like the great Bill Shankley said, ‘it’s a privilege for the reds to play in front of these supporters’ and it’s a real privilege for me to fight in front of my home fans, the people I mean the most to in my eyes.
It’s nice to give something back to the city that bought me up and raised me the way I am.
TM – It’s been a massive year for MMA in Liverpool so far with Molly McCann making her UFC debut, Chris Fishgold getting signed by the UFC, Darren Till headlining a UFC card in the city and now you bringing Cage Warriors back to Liverpool. Were there any official discussions around you fighting on the UFC card in May?
PP – yeah of course, I got asked if I wanted to fight on that card, they wanted to sign me for it but it was a case of fight on that and don’t have a cage warriors in the echo or fight on cage warriors, have the show in the echo and achieve my goal like I wanted to and get the two cage warriors belts. I wasn’t just skipping that because the UFC was coming to Liverpool. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ll bring them back to Liverpool. I’ll bring them to Anfield and show them a proper night.
TM – I respect that, it’s rare to see someone follow through on their goals rather than jumping to the UFC at the first opportunity. Assuming you grab this belt, what’s the next target?
PP – After I get this one in September, I want my belt back, I want that featherweight belt back. A belt on each shoulder, absolutely flying. We’ll see what happens. Cage Warriors 100 is gonna be in December so you never know, you could see your boy headlining that.
TM – Speaking of the featherweight title, Cage Warriors recently announced a four man tournament with the winner claiming the 145lb belt. What do you think to the line up and how do you feel you match up with those guys?
PP – It’s a good little tournament to be fair with a few decent fighters. Some of them have beaten some of my team mates so I’d love the chance to beat them up and another one of them has spoken about wanting to fight me. I wish them all good luck but the final will probably be at Cage Warriors 100 and if I fight again [this year] it’ll be on that card so doesn’t look like I’ll have a belt on each shoulder [by then]. Still a two time world champion thought bitches!
TM – It’d feel strange to have such a landmark event for Cage Warriors without you on the card so hopefully that works out one way or another. Assuming you take the 155lb title would you be looking to defend that at CW100, wait for a shot at the featherweight belt or is it just a case of waiting to see what other options present themselves?
PP – Yeah, I’d love to think they need me for CW 100 but that’s just me. I’ve no preference to be fair, [I’ll] see what offers come in. I do want to try and get another fight in before the end of the year though.
TM – Jumping back to the fight with Bak, he’s been pretty vocal on social media and in interviews. Do you have anything you’d like to say to him ahead of the fight?
PP – He’s been vocal on social media but that’s the only place he’s gonna be vocal, on social media. When he gets in the cage he’s gonna have nothing to back it up. He’s got no striking. He’s got no guard. His best thing’s his grappling and his grappling is nowhere near by level.
I can’t wait for him to try and do something in the cage, when I’m standing across from him, laughing, jabbing his face off.