Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett was the name on everyone’s lips this past Saturday night as “The Baddy” continued his march towards the big leagues. Pimblett stopped Frenchman Johnny Frachey in just 1:35 to win one of Europe’s most prestigious MMA Titles, the Cage Warriors Featherweight Championship.
Turn to social media shortly after the fight and it was all but demanded by fans and media members alike that Pimblett’s next bout be inside the Octagon in the UFC, an argument which the 21 year old has been linked with for at least the last 12 months.
Pimblett is a special talent there is absolutely no denying that. Be it from his pre-fight confidence, his unpredictable fighting style, to the way he enters the cage, this young man is the total package. So should the UFC be his next move? Or should he wait around on the European scene to further solidify himself as the best men outside of the UFC weighing 145lbs? Let’s take a look at the options if the UFC isn’t the next immediate step.
I really don’t think that Pimblett is going to be bouncing across promotions prior to the inevitable call-up and so I think it’s safe to say that if his next bout isn’t under the UFC banner then it will be where he has spent his last three fights and that is with Cage Warriors Fighting Championship. Cage Warriors has been his home since July 2013 and whilst those looking solely at his record will notice two bouts with the FCC promotion in 2015, these bouts were agreed during the period that Cage Warriors left the European scene.
The issue that Cage Warriors are going to find themselves up against is finding an opponent for Pimblett who is not only going to prove a worthy Title contender but also give Paddy that step up in competition. Personally I don’t think that outside the UFC you are going to be able to find those guys, without the exception of one or two. The man I would love to see him fight would be Mansour “Tarzan” Barnaoui who made his 145lbs debut against arguably the best Featherweight outside of the UFC, a man named Ivan Buchinger. Former BAMMA Lightweight Champion Barnaoui has an explosive style and is very unorthodox and would a true solid test for Pimblett. The Frenchman is legitimately at the upper echelon of top European fighters and given his credentials would never be discredited for walking straight into any European promotion’s Title scene, as he has done in his past two outings.
Other names which spring to mind outside of the UFC are Jim Alers (former Cage Warriors Featherweight Champion), Ivan Buchinger (although his M-1 contract would probably prohibit it) & Brendan Loughnane. Alers and Loughnane would certainly make for interesting opponents and would offer Pimblett the opportunity to hold a victory over “past UFC” fighters, something which is high on a lot of European fighters agendas. Outside of those names and unless I am really missing a trick (which is very possible), I don’t feel that any other opponent is really going to be on a level with Pimblett skills wise and offer him that “next level” of opponent.
What will be interesting to see play out is how Cage Warriors approach Pimblett’s next move given their conflict of interest in the star. For those unfamiliar, Cage Warriors owner Graham Boylan also runs IFM (Intensiti Fighter Management) who manage Pimblett as an athlete. This does add another dynamic to the equation with the promotion having invest lots of time/money into building him as a star (albeit his fighting is the main attraction) and granting him a Title shot (well deserved) squared up against the payoff of a management team receiving a cut of any potential UFC deal. Arguably Graham will be looking at what is best for Pimblett’s long term career, but this definitely will be something both CW and IFM will have discussed a long time ago.
The reality of the situation is highly expected that Pimblett’s next walkout will be heading towards an Octagon but there are certainly a couple of options for him which will not put a halt to the momentum he/Cage Warriors have been building for the last few years. One thing is guaranteed and that is that for as long as Paddy Pimblett is competing in MMA there will never be a dull moment.