Overheard at the UFC 282 official weigh-ins on Friday morning was this bit of sage commentary from UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik:
“The Paddy Pimblett effect is really a real thing. He has taken over Las Vegas, he is obviously driving this Pay-Per-View.”
Many may see that as an indictment of a disappointingly thin card. When UFC 282 lost Jiri Prochazka vs. Glover Teixeira, a mostly unnecessary but still welcome rematch of a very fun fight, the promotional burden seemed to fall to Pimblett.
The Liverpool native’s stock has been rising ever since the UFC returned to London, England earlier this year. Strong performances from Pimblett and teammate Molly McCann stole the show on both occasions; the March 2022 UFC London card is now considered by many to be one of it not the greatest Fight Night event in UFC history.
Look no further than Thursday’s UFC 282 pre-fight press conference for evidence of the “Paddy Pimblett Effect” — an abbreviated affair despite the number of fighters brought on stage, Pimblett was the undisputed star of the show. One who, like Conor McGregor before him, was more likely to get into it with other fighters than his actual UFC 282 opponent, Jared Gordon.
“I’m just different, know what I mean? He’s fought Charles [Oliveira], and Charles finished him in the first,” Pimblett said of Gordon. “I aspire to be champion one day, so I need to do the same thing. Otherwise I’ll be disappointed. But you can’t prepare to fight me, lad. You can’t get a sparring partner that can come in and spar like me. I’ve got weird striking, weird wrestling, and weird jiu-jitsu. I’m a little weirdo.”
But before long, Gordon appeared to be a distant memory to that same little weirdo. An afterthought at best, despite their fight being less than two days away. It was Ilia Topuria, who had a highly publicized incident with Pimblett in March, who was instead the center of Pimblett’s attention.
“I haven’t seen him. I haven’t seen him all week. The UFC has kept us apart,” Pimblett replied when asked about Topuria, who was already fuming and throwing any number of insults. “Because when I saw him last time, he got a hand sanitizer bottle bounced off his pod. Little nit! Hand sanitizer booooyyy!”
“No one even knows your name, lad. You’re known as Hand sanitizer boy, you little mongrel,” Pimblett later fired at Topuria.
Before long, Topuria was out of his seat, needing to be restrained from going after Pimblett, as Paddy poked fun at the German-born Georgian’s English abilities. Like McGregor, Pimblett is willing to court controversy to sell a fight. The only caveat will be, Pimblett must keep winning — and unlike in McGregor’s early-career run, Pimblett has found himself in trouble more than once.
Thus far, he has found ways to win however. That will need to keep happening moving forward, and Pimblett’s resolve may well be put to the test against Jared Gordon. While Gordon did, as Pimblett himself pointed out, lose to Charles Oliveira, a loss to “Do Bronx” isn’t exactly a badge of shame. And of late, “Flash” Gordon has found ways to win more often than not, seeing his hand raised in four of his last five contests.
As for Pimblett, the effect is in full swing — but that could be a double-edge sword, as he is now engaged with feuds with Topuria, The MMA Hour’s Ariel Helwani, and probably some guy working the refreshment stand at the T-Mobile at this point.
So yes, the Paddy Pimblett Effect is in, well, effect — the question is whether Pimblett himself can survive it, and whether the public cares enough about his fight with Jared Gordon to pay for it.