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Paddy Pimblett trains at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas, Nevada, on December 12, 2023. (Photo by Zac Pacleb/Zuffa LLC)

Paddy Pimblett: ‘He’s Getting Finished’

After A Year Out Of Action, Paddy Pimblett Hopes For A Triumphant And Definitive Return To The Octagon At UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington

Paddy Pimblett was stuck on his couch and in pain. After months of waiting, he had surgery to remedy his right ankle, which he injured in his win over Jared Gordon in December 2022. Climbing the stairs was too difficult after the operation, so “The Baddy” slept on the couch while it seemed like the entire MMA world had something to say about Pimblett’s performance in a fight some believed he lost.  

“When your job is to get in the gym and train, and you can’t do it for that long, it really does affect you, mentally and physically,” Pimblett told

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“The Baddy” entered 2023 in unfamiliar territory since making his UFC debut in September 2021. He stood a perfect 4-0 in the Octagon, but his continued polarization of peers and fans alike festered in the worst way after the Gordon fight. The natural antidote to a disappointing performance is getting back into the Octagon with an impressive win, something he could not even consider doing for months after surgery. In early May, Pimblett got out of his boot just in time for his wedding to longtime girlfriend Laura. 

Paddy Pimblett of England punches Jared Gordon in a lightweight fight during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)
Paddy Pimblett of England punches Jared Gordon in a lightweight fight during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

The Scouser spent the summer in the gym with lingering doubts about whether he would fit a fight into the calendar before the new year until the UFC called him with an offer to fight former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson. All of a sudden, Pimblett had the chance to make 2023 a “tale of two halves” situation with a definitive victory. 

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Reflecting on the buildup to his last fight, Pimblett admitted to some things getting in his head and negatively impacting his performance, and vowed to never let that happen again. 

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Ever aware of narratives that swirl around him, Pimblett touted his matchup with Ferguson a “lose-lose” scenario. He believes a win over Ferguson, despite his standing with the fanbase, doesn’t hold much water because “El Cucuy” comes into the weekend on a six-fight losing streak. As much as Pimblett would love to see Ferguson’s hand raised again, he knows that happening at his own expense would bring even louder criticism his way. All he can hope for is the best version of Ferguson. 

“I hope he doesn’t make any mistakes,” Pimblett said. “Looking past me, thinking I’m just a kid (would be a mistake).” 

Despite Ferguson’s recent form, he hasn’t gone without successful moments over the last handful of years.  

RELATED: Fighters On The Rise At UFC 296

That’s why Pimblett and his crew of coaches at Next Generation MMA in Liverpool have trained for the Ferguson “that turned up against Donald Cerrone, and Anthony Pettis, and Edson Barboza and Kevin Lee.” The 28-year-old grew up watching the best of Ferguson, who is 11 years his senior, and calls the opportunity “surreal.” He knows, though, that all that admiration needs to stay out of the Octagon when he enters on fight night.

“I’ve been watching him for years,” Pimblett said. “That’s the mistake I won’t make — I won’t look at him and think, ‘This is a legend.’ When I get in the cage and step across from him, he’s just another man that’s trying to take food out my unborn babies’ mouths, so he’s getting finished.”

Oh, yeah. That’s the other part — the newly married Pimbletts are expecting twins in the first half of 2024, so “Paddy the Daddy” has even more motivation to stretch his UFC winning streak to five on December 16.

MORE UFC 296: Fight Card Preview | Main Event Breakdown | Covington In His Own Words | Colby Rates Fellow Welterweights | MMA Coaches Break Down Main Event

Winning solves everything, and to Pimblett’s credit, winning is all he has done during his UFC tenure. That hasn’t come without haters, who had all the reason to pounce on the Liverpudlian a year ago. Life in the spotlight is old hat for Pimblett at this point, however. Although the year started on some lows, Pimblett has every chance to head into 2024 back on the ascent. 

“When you win, it’s different,” Pimblett said. “Once you get your hand raised, that feeling is all worth it. I just can’t wait to fight again. It’s been far too long.”

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UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington took place live from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 16, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass