Ilia Topuria continues to stalk Paddy Pimblett in hopes of an eventual fight, even if he believes Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will never allow the two to share the cage together.
Topuria fought Bryce Mitchell in the opening fight of the UFC 282 pay-per-view (PPV) event, mauling the previously undefeated Featherweight before submitting him in the third round (watch highlights here). Pimblett competed later in the night, earning a questionable decision win over Jared Gordon in a low-action affair.
It certainly made the two fighters seem pretty far apart in terms of talent.
“I feel like UFC’s protecting him from me,” Topuria said during an interview on The MMA Hour. “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 championship fights.”
Topuria and Pimblett have been involved in a growing beef since Pimblett made light of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, saying Georgians were so “stupid” and “no wonder the Russians terrorize their lives.” That led to an in-person confrontation at the UFC London hotel where Pimblett infamously branded Topuria, “Mr. Hand Sanitizer.”
During the UFC 282 press conference (watch it here), Topuria once again called out Pimblett, who responded by calling him a “mongrel” and telling him to speak English. All just fuel for Topuria’s fire.
“I know that I’m going to knock him out,” Topuria said. “I’m way better than him everywhere. So right now, you have a fight against Paddy against who cares, I don’t think people are very excited about watching him fight. Because he talks well, he’s a great promoter, but as a fighter he sucks. Right now, I’m the guy. Everyone wants to watch me fight. You put me against anyone, they’re going to watch.”
Topuria did admit, though, that he felt it was UFC avoiding the fight, not Pimblett specifically. Pimblett says he just accepts whoever UFC offers, and Topuria knows UFC isn’t offering him to “The Baddy.”
“In reality, they never made an official offer to Paddy to fight against me,” he said. “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.”
Topuria sits in the No. 14 position at Featherweight, while Pimblett remains unranked at Lightweight.
For complete UFC 282 results and coverage click here.