Paddy Pimblett already made quite the first impression in his UFC debut, but Daniel Cormier believes his encore could be his true breakout moment – his Conor McGregor moment, if you will.

After scoring a furious first-round TKO of Luigi Vendramini last September, Pimblett returns for his second octagon appearance Saturday against Kazula Vargas at UFC Fight Night 204. The difference in environment between his first two UFC appearances will be night and day. The Englishman’s win over Vendramini took place inside an intimate and quiet UFC Apex in Las Vegas, whereas a packed O2 Arena in London will play host to UFC Fight Night 204.

Considering the setting for UFC Fight Night 204, Cormier sees Pimblett having a golden opportunity to make his mark in his home country the way McGregor did in 2014.

“You know what I think back to? I think back to Conor McGregor fighting (Diego Brandao) in Ireland,” Cormier said on his “DC and RC” ESPN show, remembering when McGregor won by first-round TKO at UFC Fight Night 46 in Dublin. “He was young in his career, he had barely started, and he got to fight at home in front of those people, and it just elevated him. Right away, Conor McGregor was on his way. They strapped the rocket ship to his back, and he was to the moon.”

That was McGregor’s third fight in the UFC. He next finished Dustin Poirier in their first meeting at UFC 178. Since then, McGregor has headlined 10 UFC events and become the all-time pay-per-view king of the promotion.

Could a similar trajectory be in Pimblett’s future?

“If Pimblett goes and does something special on Saturday, it’ll be the same type of situation,” Cormier said. “Like I said, the only thing missing from his debut was that massive explosion from the fans after he did what he did. If he can do that this weekend, he will get that and then the highlight will play over and over again.”

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Paddy Pimblett recounts UFC London fight week altercation with ‘little man’ Ilia Topuria

UFC Fight Night 204 media day faceoffs: Volkov-Aspinall, Allen-Hooker, Pimblett-Vargas

The comparison’s between 27-year-old Pimblett and McGregor have been made for a while. Like McGregor, Pimblett was a Cage Warriors featherweight champion. Also like McGregor, Pimblett exudes charisma and talks a big game, which makes him an easy target for fighter callouts.

Already this week, Pimblett (17-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) got into a dust-up with Ilia Topuria at the host hotel in London over comments he made about the Russo-Georgian war.

A win over Vargas at UFC Fight Night 204 would be Pimblett’s fourth in a row. The first three during his streak all have been finishes.


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