Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
The two UFC fighters engaged in a heated altercation in the hotel on Tuesday ahead of their respective bouts at UFC London. Punches were thrown before the duo was separated by onlookers and members of Topuria’s team. Topuria and Pimblett have continued to chirp back and forth since the incident, and on Wednesday’s episode of The MMA Hour, the Georgian contender revealed that the origin of the animosity stemmed from a tweet written by Pimblett in early 2021 that appeared to belittle the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia.
“It didn’t happen because he called me something yesterday. It comes from a long time ago,” Topuria explained on The MMA Hour. “He was arguing with one of my close friends once on Twitter and he posted [something] like, ‘Now I understand why Russia destroyed Georgia, because you’re dumb,’ and it makes my blood boil. When I saw it, I was surprised. I didn’t believe it when I saw that tweet, because in 2008 I was living in Georgia when the war happened, and it was a very difficult time for me, for my family, for all my friends, for my country. A lot of innocent people, kids, were dying in that war.
“And to see how someone is joking about that, it makes my blood boil. So I texted with him, I don’t remember what I tweeted, and when they gave me the fight in London, he text me like three weeks ago, like, ‘I can’t wait to see you in London. We’ll see if you have the balls to tell me everything you texted me on Twitter.’ Bulls***.”
A screenshot of Pimblett’s original tweet can be seen below, along with Topuria’s initial response. “Lad how stupid are these Georgians man,” Pimblett wrote, accompanied by several crying laughing emojis. “No wonder the Russians terrorise their lives.”
You think that’s funny?! In that attack by Russia against us, many innocent people lost their lives, including children! The one who supports terrorism and racism is one of them! This tweet will haunt you for [email protected] pic.twitter.com/IxRvn6FkXK
— Ilia Topuria (@Topuriailia) April 1, 2021
Topuria said he didn’t intend to run into Pimblett in the UFC’s fighter hotel on Tuesday, but once he did, he wasn’t going to let the popular Liverpudlian off the hook.
“He wanted to shake my hand,” Topuria explained. “He didn’t come [toward me], but he looked at me nice, you know? I threw the bottle at his face, he threw it back to me, but I don’t know what, I slip and I give him a proper right hand — and that is why, the video, you saw it. Everyone saw the video, what happened. So it’s hard. You have the Ukraine flag [in your studio], can you imagine if I started to make some jokes about the war, where their children are dying, where people are suffering? You can’t talk about that. So this is why.
“The same situation [happened to us], we were living in Georgia in 2008. The same situation. I was living there, and a lot of guys from my class, my friends, I saw all of them out there, their parents were dying in the war, and crazy situations — I can’t even explain how the situation was at that time. [It bothers me] when I hear someone joking about that.”
Sources close to Pimblett told MMA Fighting on Wednesday that the Scouser was unaware of the Russia-Georgia conflict when he made his initial remarks last year and had “no idea” of the history that could be invoked by his words.
Nonetheless, Pimblett has remained unapologetic throughout his feud with Topuria, and he fired back at the Georgia native at Wednesday’s UFC London media day, stating that Topuria “got put in his place” and “made himself look like a right tool” with the incident. Pimblett also slapped Topuria with the nickname “Mr. Hand Sanitizer” because of the bottle of hand sanitizer that was thrown during the altercation.
Because of that, Topuria — who is currently one of the UFC’s top-15 ranked featherweights — wants to fight Pimblett next, regardless of what happens on Saturday.
“I saw this interview today that he was saying, like, ‘He is nobody. He’s small.’ Something like this,” Topuria said. “Who the f*** is he? Who the f*** is he? This guy has just one fight in the UFC. And yes, maybe I’m not so tall, but I need just one punch and I can put my balls on his forehead. So, if he gets the win, I really want to fight with him. Even if he doesn’t get the win, I want to fight him, because of my people, because of me. I want to take his head off.
“If they give me the chance to be with him alone in a room, I’m going to kill this motherf*****.
“He should be thankful for all of my teammates, because they separated me,” Topuria added. “If not, he would be in the hospital right now.”
So even though Topuria generally fights a featherweight, he is happy to stay at 155 pounds if it means a chance to settle the beef and fight Pimblett next.
“Right now, he’s walking with security,” Topuria said. “He needs security in his own country.
“He was quiet like a b**** [on Tuesday]. He didn’t say anything. So, yeah, f*** him. F*** him. He’s just a man on Twitter, but this is not Twitter — this is real life. If you want to play a gangster, be a gangster until the end. If not, just stay quiet, kid.
“I don’t know if the UFC wants me to make a step back, because for me, like I told you before, that [Pimblett] fight didn’t mean anything — it’s not going to make me move forward or something in the rankings,” Topuria added. “We’ll see. We’ll see what’s going to happen. Right now I’m focused on my fight, so we’ll see.”