LONDON – It seems the UFC may have found its next star.
Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 204 in London featured many promising and prominent fighters. Among those was Liverpool’s Paddy Pimblett. The 27-year-old appeared to be the most popular figure of the night and got a big pop from the London crowd when stepped into the cage.
Pimblett (18-3 MMA, 2-0 UFC) beat Kazula Vargas by submission in the first round of their lightweight contest on the main card bout. It was Pimblett’s second fight in the UFC.
Pimblett carried big expectations entering fight night and delivered. UFC president Dana White was impressed with Pimblett’s performance, along with his popularity among fans.
“This week, I was getting tired of hearing, ‘Wait till you see his walkout. Wait till you see his walkout,’ and this and that,” White told MMA Junkie at the UFC Fight Night 204 post-fight news conference. “And I’m like, ‘I need to see him fight. He needs to win.’ But he did, and he did it spectacularly. And when he was in trouble, he came back and turned the fight around and won.
“I’ll give you a good example. On my Instagram, I posted the faceoffs (Friday). The (Tom Aspinall-Alexander Volkov main event) fight did 120,000 views, and Paddy’s faceoff did 1.3 million. All the talk going about his walk-in and all this sh*t – this kid is real. He’s got a ton of hype behind him and he showed everyone he’s the real deal.”
Although Pimblett definitely contributed to the success of UFC Fight Night 204, there were many other standout performances and highlight-reel finishes. Of the 12 fights, nine were by stoppage. All nine fighters were given $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses, as opposed to the standard two.
White is looking to return to the UK again in 2022.
“Tonight was such a good night,” White said. “My brain is absolute mush tonight, and some other things too. We’ll get back home and figure out what’s next. Tonight re-energized me and reminded me of what is like to do fights in the UK We’re coming back this year. I don’t give a sh*t what the schedule is. We’ll move things around when we get home.”