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Pimblett looking for triumphant Cage Warriors return after being close to ‘ending it all’

The Liverpudlian has been out of action for over a year but returns to the cage on Friday night in London.

Paddy Pimblett
Dolly Clew/Cage Warriors

This upcoming weekend marks the beginning of the comeback for one of Europe’s brightest stars. Well-known for his charismatic personality and outspoken nature, former Cage Warriors featherweight champion, Paddy Pimblett, intends to put a dark year behind him and get back on track to achieving his potential in the sport.

Fans haven’t seen Pimblett (14-3) inside the cage since he lost to Soren Bak at Cage Warriors 96 when he was unsuccessful in picking up the promotion’s lightweight belt. That was an opportunity for him to claim a title in a second weight class in front of his hometown crowd, but he was battling more than just Bak last September. Three months before that bout, Pimblett had surgery on his hand so doctors told him not to compete - but he ignored their advice and fought anyway. That decision has left the 24-year-old with lasting damage which meant his recovery was much tougher than usual.

“I made my hand ten times worse by fighting against Bak as I needed another surgery straight after that contest,” explained Pimblett. “That’s why it’s taken so long to get back in there. I couldn’t pull out of that title fight though because I’m a real fighter and couldn’t let my crowd down. The hand feels a lot better than it did even though it’ll never be the same again, but that’s life. Injuries make you adapt and become a better fighter.”

Pimblett has been fighting since he was 16 years old but by the time he walks out in the Indigo at the O2 on Friday night, this will have been the longest layoff of his 17-fight professional career. This has been a really testing period for ‘The Baddy’ as many of his teammates at Next Generation MMA in Liverpool, including Chris Fishgold and Molly McCann, have achieved some success in the UFC. At the same time, Pimblett has been restricted to looking on and observing from the sidelines, which contributed to him entering a really dark place.

“It’s been a rough time to be honest and depression got to me,” stated Pimblett. “That had a huge impact on my whole life. I’d just randomly cry and think of mad things in my head - even to the point of ending it all. My girlfriend, family, and gym family got me through it all and I don’t know where I’d be now if it wasn’t for them. It’s made me a stronger person. I’ve got through everything and can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. I cannot wait to prove all those who believed in my right and all the bums who doubted me wrong!”

The Liverpudlian made it clear that he has always been treated and paid well by Cage Warriors so is very thankful to be fighting for them. There has always been a large amount of hype surrounding Pimblett but he is feeling no pressure to remind observers of what they have been missing after his time away. For this fight camp, he has had a full strength and conditioning regime scientifically planned so he believes it’s going to be the most in shape and strongest version of himself yet.

Pimblett was originally scheduled to compete against the tough Belgian, Donovan Desmae, on Friday night at Cage Warriors 111 but Desmae suffered an injury in the weeks leading up to the bout. However, the promotion was able to find a suitable replacement in TUF 27 finalist, Joe Giannetti (8-2-1), which some have suggested arguably leads to a more intriguing matchup. The American has earned stoppages in 7 of his 8 professional wins and has made it known he is looking to improve on that finishing rate in London. Pimblett can’t wait to put on a show without any other distractions this time around and wants to send his name right to the forefront of people’s minds once again.

“I think that Joe Giannetti is a good fight for me after Desmae pulled out,” discussed Pimblett. “I’ve just wanted an opponent for the last two weeks and someone with the balls finally decided to step up. However, he will get finished inside the first two rounds. Mark my words! I’m at the top of this Cage Warriors lightweight division and I think everyone knows that.”

Someone on the promotion’s roster who has been posturing for a fight with Pimblett for some time is Northern Irishman, Joe McColgan. He is coming off of a first-round submission win in Cork earlier this month and after that bout, suggested that a clash between himself and Pimblett would be the biggest fight that Cage Warriors could put on next year. However, he isn’t someone that interests Pimblett at this time as he is focussing on much bigger objectives.

“McColgan is 6-2 so that fight is beneath me,” said Pimblett. “Tell him to get to 10-2 and then we can start talking. Next year, my main aim is to either become the lightweight champion in Cage Warriors to get my second belt or make it to the UFC. One of those or the other will happen.”

When the lights are turned up and Pimblett’s familiar entrance music hits the speakers inside the Indigo at the O2, the whole venue will be captivated. His distinctive blonde locks will be bobbing around the cage as usual with a number of traveling support roaring him on. It is at that moment when everyone will be able to tell whether or not recent times have set Pimblett back or if the best is truly yet to come.

Cage Warriors 111 will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass at 9pm GMT on Friday night. Fans in the US can watch from 4pmET/3c.