LONDON – Paddy Pimblett’s second UFC fight week started with some … controversy, shall we say.

The former Cage Warriors champion and now UFC lightweight returns to the octagon Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 204 at O2 Arena where he takes on Mexico’s Rodrigo Vargas.

Just days away from his second UFC fight, Pimblett (17-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) got into a dust-up, but not with his opponent. The Englishman got into an altercation on Tuesday with Ilia Topuria, who fights Jai Herbert on the same card.

“As soon as he came out the double doors, he snared me, so I looked at him and said, ‘What?’” Pimblett recalled when asked about the scuffle during Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 204 media day. “Then he walked towards me. I said, ‘What’s happening, lad?’ And as he got close to me, he swiped a slap at me, and obviously if you raise your hands at me, I’m going to do something.

“I wasn’t punching him because I’m not breaking my hand and then not be able to fight and not get my money on the weekend. So I stepped back, and I picked the hand sanitizer and bounced it off his head. And then he swung a big one, and I moved out of the way with ease. He’s got a little bit of small man syndrome. He’s only (5-foot-7), so I just tried to leave the little man to it.

“He wanted to come at me and act all that, and he got put in his place. I stood there on my own and there was about six of them, and he done nothing. If he wanted to do something, he would’ve come around the table and try and have a fight with me, but he didn’t. He stood on the other side of the table because he knows what’s good for him.”

Ilia Topuria and Paddy Pimblett got into a heated altercation at the host hotel for #UFCLondon.

More details: https://t.co/TETMlxuy8v pic.twitter.com/ZUQseIGy11

— MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) March 15, 2022

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Topuria and Pimblett have history. They’ve beefed online for about a year, which initially escalated when Pimblett targeted Georgian fighters in online attacks. Topuria was especially upset with Pimblett when the Englishman poked fun at the Russo-Georgian War that killed many Georgians, including Topuria’s family members. Pimblett later apologized for his comments.

Topuria told MMA Junkie he’d like to fight Pimblett. However, Pimblett doesn’t seem to be on board with the idea as he expects Topuria to lose to Herbert on Saturday.

“Who even is he? Seriously,” Pimblett said. “Who is Mr. Hand Sanitizer? He’s no one. He used my name for followers and to gain some publicity. He put a video of him and made himself look like a tool.

“He’s not going to win, I know full well. I know Jai, and Jai is going to knock him out on Saturday and throw him back down to the featherweight division.”

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