It could be argued that Paddy Pimblett has been one of the unluckiest men in MMA over the past year and a half.
Since being unsuccessful in his attempt to claim the Cage Warriors lightweight title eighteen months ago, Pimblett (14-3) has had five straight fights fall through. He went into that championship bout with a preexisting hand injury and competing for the belt made it even worse so he had surgery right after the contest. His injury hadn’t healed in time for ‘The Baddy’ to return at the landmark Cage Warriors 100 event against Donovan Desmae so he decided to take an extended time out on the sidelines. Pimblett made it known that he suffered from depression during this period after being forced to see some of his teammates progress in their careers while he just watched on as his own stagnated.
Once he thought he was in good enough condition to fight again, Pimblett was booked to face lightweight standout, Donovan Desmae, for the second time at Cage Warriors 111 but the Belgian withdrew a couple of weeks out from the fight. He was replaced by TUF veteran, Joe Giannetti, but the American missed weight by a considerable amount so the bout was cancelled the day before the event. The promotion hoped it would be third time lucky when they again set Pimblett and Desmae up against each other for the upcoming Cage Warriors 113 show but it still wasn’t to be, as Desmae withdrew due to personal reasons.
Davide Martinez then stepped up to face Pimblett but had to pull out of the contest last weekend due to travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The show was also thrown into disarray earlier this week when the event’s original venue, the Indigo at the O2, announced they were closing the building so the organisation could no longer stage the fight card there. Despite being held behind closed doors, Cage Warriors 113 was moved to the BEC Arena in Manchester at the last minute in order for the show to go. It has been a worrying and uncertain time for everyone given the current climate, but Pimblett has been more eager than most to carry on as normal and return to the cage so he can remind everyone of his potential.
“It’s been a stressful situation with everything going on in the world as well as being weight cutting and water loading time at the same time,” explained Pimblett. “I’ve just got to get on with it. Despite being out for so long, I won’t be overly aggressive to get any frustration out and in my opinion, there’s no such thing as fighting too emotional really. Me and my opponent don’t have bad blood. I’ll just go in there and show the brand-new fighter I’ve come back as after the layoff. I want to beat someone up.”
Decky Dalton accepted the challenge on very short notice to welcome the former Cage Warriors featherweight champion back to the cage on Friday night and intends to take out one of Europe’s biggest stars. Dalton (11-4) trains out of Fight Academy Ireland and is currently riding a four-fight winning streak, with the last three of those coming by way of submission. Luckily for Pimblett, considering the amount of opponents he has been booked to face recently, he doesn’t study his adversaries games in too much detail and focuses mostly on himself. With this upcoming lightweight bout, the 25-year-old believes he has just got to keep his hands up to avoid Dalton’s overhand right, in order to stay out of trouble.
“To be honest, I’m expecting him to come out and try to take my head off,” stated Pimblett. “I think he knows that’s all he can do – swing the overhand and try to knock me out. However, no ones knocked me out yet and he’s not going to be the first. I think wherever the fight goes, I’m better than him. He knows that so he’s just going to come out, swing for the fences and try to get the fast finish. I’m predicting a first round stoppage win for myself. If not during the opening frame, it’ll be in the second. I’ll be very disappointed if I don’t have him out of there in two rounds!”
Another key lightweight bout is taking place on Friday night as Mason Jones and Joe McColgan square off for the promotion’s vacant belt. The division is one of the deepest in Cage Warriors but when Pimblett found out others were fighting for the title before he was, he wasn’t particularly happy. However, given time to reflect, he believes he knows exactly why the organisation made the decision they did.
“Both of Jones and McColgan would have said that they wouldn’t fight the other without the belt on the line,” claimed Pimblett. “That’s just the way it is. Cage Warriors aren’t going to put me in a title fight on a week’s notice because they’ll want to build that up and get as many people there as possible. With these two, they can just throw it at them. You never know, I could end up fighting the winner. It’ll be the Cage Warriors title or a UFC contract for me after this win. It’s that simple!”
Cage Warriors 113 takes place on Friday night from Manchester, England and viewers from UK/Ireland can tune in on UFC Fight Pass at 9 p.m. GMT. Fans in the US can watch from 5 p.m. ET.