The feud between Ilia Topuria and Paddy Pimblett doesn’t feel like it will die down anytime soon. The whole thing kicked off when Pimblett made a disparaging remark about Georgians, referencing the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia.
Since then Topuria and Pimblett have been booked on two UFC cards together (what a coincidence!). And both times Topuria has tried to get a piece of ‘The Baddy’. The first time, at UFC London in March, Topuria flew at Pimblett in a cafeteria. Most recently, at this past weekend’s UFC 282, Topuria lunged at Pimblett during the pre-fight press conference.
At UFC 282 Topuria impressively dispatched of his opponent—the previously undefeated Bryce Mitchell—and moved his pro record to a sterling 13-0.
Pimblett also got a win at UFC 282. However, his was a unanimous decision victory of Jared Gordon. Most onlookers believe that decision to be one of the worst judging decisions of the year.
This week Topuria appeared on The MMA Hour, where he made it clear that he thought Pimblett was the beneficiary of special treatment from the UFC.
“I feel like the UFC’s protecting him me,” claimed Topuria. “I don’t know why. In reality, that’s the fight to make right now, because it’s one of the biggest fights in the UFC. We can perfectly sell a pay-per-view. That fight makes more excitement for people than [many] championship fights.”
Topuria then said that he thought the decision win for Pimblett was a “Christmas gift” from the UFC and suggested that the promotion wants Pimblett to win so they can keep promoting him as a top talent.
When asked flat out if he thinks the UFC influenced the judges’ decision, Topuria declined to outright accuse his bosses of malfeasance.
“Maybe yes, maybe not,” he responded. “But look, I want to be honest. The guy is good at promoting himself. As a fighter, he sucks. He doesn’t have any skills. He’s so boring to watch. But promoting himself, he’s good, so the UFC’s supporting him, of course.”
Topuria and Pimblett currently fight in separate weight-classes (featherweight and lightweight). Topuria said he was eager to fight Pimblett, but was also excited to focus on the featherweight division and called out former title challenger Brian Ortega.
Topuria also said he thinks it’s very unlikely that the UFC sanctions a fight between he and Pimblett at this early stage of their UFC careers.
“In reality, [the UFC] never made an official offer to Paddy to fight against me. I don’t think he’s going to turn down the fight. Maybe yes, I don’t know, but the UFC didn’t want the fight, yet. I know that one day it’s going to happen.”