Paddy Pimblett will have to face a Top-15 opponent sooner rather than later if he keeps winning.
The rising lightweight prospect had his momentum slowed by injury for nearly the entirety of 2023. Liverpool’s “Baddy” managed to return just before the calendar flipped to 2024, however, and in doing so, was tasked with the biggest fight of his budding career against Tony Ferguson at UFC 296 last month.
Pimblett, 28, entered the bout with four straight wins inside the octagon and a six-fight stretch of success in total (21-3). Ferguson, on the other hand, was hopeful to snap his losing streak of six, but instead, now finds himself tied with BJ Penn for most consecutive UFC losses at seven. Ferguson’s loss came via unanimous decision, but he was nearly finished by strikes in the opening frame. The fact that Pimblett took “El Cucuy” the distance doesn’t bode well for his immediate future, believes former UFC lightweight contender-turned-commentator Paul Felder.
“Can Paddy beat anyone in the top 15? I will start with this: Of course he can. We know that it’s MMA — anything can happen,” Felder said on Round Up w/ Paul Felder & Michael Chiesa. “But if we were going to sit here and make bets, and if I had to predict, no, I really don’t think so. He struggled to get a Tony out of there who looked the worst he’s ever looked in his career.
“He was able to hurt Tony a little bit, but he really should have been able to put him away. Not taking anything away from him — he knew he was going to be in for a hard one, even if he won this fight. He said it in the media days leading up that we were going to criticize him even if he wins, if he didn’t go out there and maybe get him out of there. So here we are criticizing him.”
Pimbett essentially predicted the treatment of the matchup to a tee when he called it a “lose-lose situation” because of Ferguson’s current status. Several fights before the Pimblett clash, speculation built around whether or not Ferguson should retire and those debates continue. UFC CEO Dana White stated after the event that he’d like to see Ferguson call it a career, but the one-time interim lightweight champion has since alluded to fighting again.
For Felder, the 39-year-old veteran teased a comeback during the tail end of 2023 but hasn’t made any commitment to stepping back in the octagon. Felder vs. Pimblett at UFC 300, anyone?
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Great news coming…2024!
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Strong close to the year.
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This to me is the perfect setup for Felder vs. Pimblett at UFC 300.
Thanks for reading!