Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
Before signing with the UFC last year, Pimblett was one of the biggest stars in MMA outside the organization, and would often draw comparisons to fellow one-time Cage Warriors featherweight champion Conor McGregor. After making a successful UFC debut this past September, Pimblett asked for a fight in England to prove his ability to “blow the roof off the gaff,” and Pimblett did just that, securing a first-round comeback victory and setting the UFC London crowd off in raucous excitement.
And now, the UFC president is no longer doubting “The Baddy.”
“This week I was getting tired of hearing, ‘Oh, wait til you see his walkout, wait til you see this and that.’ I was like, I want to see him fight. He needs to win, you know?” White said at the UFC London post-fight press conference. “But he did, and he did spectacularly. And when he was in trouble, he came back and he turned the fight around and won.
“I’ll give you an example: On my Instagram, I posted the faceoffs yesterday for the heavyweight fight [Aspinall vs. Volkov]. Did 120,000 views. Paddy’s faceoff did 1.3 million. So all the talk going into the fight about his walkout and all this s***, listen, it’s real. This kid’s got a ton of hype behind him and tonight he showed everybody that he’s the real deal.”
Pimblett certainly believes himself to be just that. After his win, Pimblett said that he deserves to be in main events and that he could sell out a stadium show with ease.
On the latter point, White was less interested, but he does believe that Pimblett is now a main event fighter.
“I don’t know. I mean, his numbers say yes. His numbers say yes. He could headline a Fight Night,” White said.
“It’s just one of those things. … He’s like [Sean] O’Malley. O’Malley pulls big numbers. We’ve had a couple guys off the Contender Series that have pulled some big numbers. That’s the best way I could think to explain it. If you look at some of the guys that have come off the Contender Series and you watch the numbers and see what they do, you’ll see these guys either move right to pay-per-view or we headline them or put them in strong positions on Fight Nights. Paddy is definitely one of those guys that could be one.”