Israel Adesanya knows a thing or two about hype in mixed martial arts (MMA). Ahead of (UFC) London this weekend (Sat., March 19, 2022), the reigning Middleweight kingpin assessed one of the brighter young stars on the card.
Paddy Pimblett of Liverpool, England, makes his second appearance in the Octagon this Saturday night, taking on Rodrigo Vargas. Although, many casual viewers may have been fooled to believe he’s facing Ilia Topuria after the antics that ensued earlier in the week.
In preparation for “The Baddy’s” sophomore outing, Adesanya looked back at the Brit’s UFC debut on his YouTube channel and made some comparisons to his own rise to prominence — including “the mad stupid dances he does when he comes out.”
“He should do that. I dare him to do a f—king whole entrance on the biggest fight of his life,” Adesanya said (h/t MMA Fighting). “I’m not talking this fight — this ain’t the biggest fight of his life. He’s fighting a motherf—ker that’s 1-2 [in the UFC]. He’s getting fed a bum. I dare him to try something like that, and then fight, and do what I did.
“He jumped in the UFC, talked that s—t, and he walked that s—t, too,” Adesanya continued. “I like what he’s doing. I like the haircut, and I like how he’s owning everything and just telling it like it is. He’s speaking his truth. They’re building him up. This is the thing: when I got to the UFC, when I jumped in, I was ready to fight the [most] dangerous people of the division, and they threw me right in there against a grappler who was going to grapple me — at least, that’s what he tried to do. Second fight, I’m fighting blockhead [Marvin Vettori], third fight, I fight a top-ranked guy, top-10, f—k, third fight.”
While Pimblett (17-3) is only 1-0 in UFC, his confidence has been evident even prior to his arrival stateside. Despite a rocky early start in his first-round knockout win of Luigi Vendramini at UFC Vegas 36 (watch highlights), Adesanya can see the sheer level of confidence in Pimblett as something that will aid him immensely going forward.
“Look, you can be a hype train but there’s levels,” Adesanya said. “I knew I could jump in the deep end and swim with the sharks right away. I didn’t have the opportunity, like some of these guys — even [Jon Jones] early on was fighting, not scrubs, but they push you, and once they realize who you are, ‘Oh, okay, let’s push him more.’ Anyway, that’s no shade by the way, that’s just me stating it as it is for myself. I didn’t get to fight a guy who was 1-2.
“That kind of confidence shakes a lot of dudes, even a lot of veterans,” he added. “When they’re under the lights, when a guy is creative like Pimblett, or like myself — like [Derek] Brunson at MSG (Madison Square Garden). I created all of that. He was like, ‘Oh f—k, s—t,’ and he got shook. So he can shake a lot of veterans with that confidence, but he’s a bit green so he needs to work on his skills, especially his striking.”
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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