Paddy Pimblett’s long-awaited Octagon debut will finally go down later today (Sat., Sept. 4, 2021) at UFC Vegas 36 live on ESPN+ from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, but it almost didn’t happen.
Pimblett, a former Cage Warriors champion and native of England, needed to get his visa to travel to the United States and compete this weekend against lightweight Luigi Vendramini in Las Vegas. If the bout was taking place in England travel wouldn’t be an issue. But since this is the first time Pimblett is fighting on American soil he needed to secure his visa.
Unfortunately for Pimblett, things didn’t go exactly as planned. There is an infraction on Pimblett’s record for possession of cannibas dating back to his youth. That sort of thing may be legal in Las Vegas at this point in time, but it nearly stopped “Baddy” from making the trip to UFC Vegas 36.
“This has been more stressful than getting ready for the fight,” Pimblett told Ariel Helwani during a recent episode of the MMA Hour (h/t MMA Fighting). “Last Monday when I went to the embassy — I got a caution when I was 19. A caution means like it’s not on your record no more and it was for possession of cannabis, which is legal in Las Vegas. The man in the embassy told me I was ineligible for a visa so the UFC had to send off for a special waiver and luckily enough it came back in time.
“But when I got home from London on the Monday night I sat in my house and cried for an hour thinking that I wasn’t fighting. I literally sat there for an hour and cried my eyes out and thought that it was over. I’ve had the best camp of my life and a man sitting behind a desk is stopping me from fighting.”
Luckily, UFC worked its magic and got Pimblett into the States for his awaited debut this weekend in Las Vegas. It’s good that the promotion was able to do something because Pimblett is coming off one of his best camps ever and seems primed to make a huge statement when he steps inside of the Octagon.
“My training camp has been perfect,” Pimblett said. “My boxing, my kicking, my jiu-jitsu, my wrestling, my sparring, my [strength and conditioning], I’m a new specimen now. I’m a different animal even from what I was six months ago when I fought Davide Martinez. I’m a completely different animal now.
“Luigi’s not gonna be ready, man. I swear to God he’s not gonna last anymore than five minutes, so he’s not going to enjoy his five minutes of fame in the cage with me.”
While Vendramini isn’t the biggest name at 155 pounds that Pimblett could have faced in his debut he’s still a well-rounded fighter with a 100-percent finish rate. It’s not going to be easy, but “Baddy” is aiming to follow in the footsteps of some of the biggest stars in UFC history and put on a show this weekend in “Sin City.”
“There have been guys like Jai Herbert and Mason Jones they’ve had it hard to be honest, their debut fights were tough, same as Rhys McKee,” Pimblett said. “All these guys had tough, tough debuts. I don’t consider mine as a tough, but obviously any fight in the UFC is tough even though I think I’ve had tougher fights in Cage Warriors.
“But I’m here to represent and I’m gonna show everyone how good Cage Warriors is, it’s that simple. As you know, Conor comes from Cage Warriors. Dan Hardy, Michael Bisping, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, a lot of people forget that and I’m gonna be the next name added to that list.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 36 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” bouts at 2 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 4 p.m. ET.