On a surface level, the altercation between Ilia Topurai and Paddy Pimblett earlier this week looked like just another random jockeying between fighters. However, the root of the matter goes far deeper for Georgia’s Topuria, who initiated the confrontation of “The Baddy” in the host hotel lobby.
“It didn’t happen because he called me something yesterday. It comes from a long time ago,” Topuria explained on The MMA Hour. “He was arguing with one of my close friends once on Twitter and he posted [something] like, ‘Now I understand why Russia destroyed Georgia, because you’re dumb,’ and it makes my blood boil. When I saw it, I was surprised. I didn’t believe it when I saw that tweet, because in 2008 I was living in Georgia when the war happened, and it was a very difficult time for me, for my family, for all my friends, for my country. A lot of innocent people, kids, were dying in that war.
“And to see how someone is joking about that, it makes my blood boil,” Topuria continued. “So I texted with him, I don’t remember what I tweeted, and when they gave me the fight in London, he text me like three weeks ago, like, ‘I can’t wait to see you in London. We’ll see if you have the balls to tell me everything you texted me on Twitter.’ Bulls—t.”
Exchanging a punch and a hand sanitizer bottle, no one was hurt when Topuria and Pimblett encountered each other and their fights are on for this weekend (Sat., March 19, 2022).
With tensions very high in the world today because of the ongoing situation between Russia and Ukraine, it only amplified past comments from Pimblett in the mind of Topuria, who drew comparisons to his home.
“Can you imagine if I started to make some jokes about the war, where their children are dying, where people are suffering?” Topuria said. “You can’t talk about that. So this is why.
“The same situation [happened to us], we were living in Georgia in 2008,” he continued. “The same situation. I was living there, and a lot of guys from my class, my friends, I saw all of them out there, their parents were dying in the war, and crazy situations — I can’t even explain how the situation was at that time. [It bothers me] when I hear someone joking about that.”
UFC London will see both men compete in the 155-pound division despite Topuria primarily being a 145-pound Featherweight. Pimblett meets Rodrigo Vargas shortly after Topuria collides with Jai Herbert.
At UFC London media day today (Weds., March 16, 2022), Pimblett took the stage and spoke about multiple topics — yesterday’s incident, of course, being one of them. Topuria took the time to check things out and let’s just say he was none too pleased.
“I saw this interview today that he was saying, like, ‘He is nobody. He’s small.’ Something like this,” Topuria said. “Who the f—k is he? Who the f—k is he? This guy has just one fight in the UFC. And yes, maybe I’m not so tall, but I need just one punch and I can put my balls on his forehead. So, if he gets the win, I really want to fight with him. Even if he doesn’t get the win, I want to fight him, because of my people, because of me. I want to take his head off.
“If they give me the chance to be with him alone in a room, I’m going to kill this motherf—ker,” he continued. “He should be thankful for all of my teammates because they separated me. If not, he would be in the hospital right now. Right now, he’s walking with security. He needs security in his own country.
“He was quiet like a b—ch [on Tuesday],” Topuria added. “He didn’t say anything. So, yeah, f—k him. F—k him. He’s just a man on Twitter, but this is not Twitter, this is real life. If you want to play a gangster, be a gangster until the end. If not, just stay quiet, kid.”
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC London fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 4 p.m. ET.
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