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Paddy Pimblett: ‘[Conor McGregor] said he was here to takeover, well I’m here to conquer’

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Even before winning the featherweight championship in Cage Warriors on Sept. 10 in his native Liverpool, Paddy Pimblett had a little something going on. In fact the 21-year old’s buzz is the kind that can be heard all the way across the pond — not unlike that of another former Cage Warriors champion, who a little over three years ago arrived in the UFC with plenty of prestige from Ireland.

Not that Paddy "The Baddy" necessarily loves the comparison to UFC icon Conor McGregor, but for the time being he understands it and appreciates the sentiment.

"Honestly it’s great because people see how good he is and they see that I can become that good but, at the same time I don’t like it because I am a young man," Pimblett said on Monday during an appearance on The MMA Hour. "Even when I was 17 and 18 I was telling people I was going to be a two-weight world champion in the UFC anyway. The comparison is nice at the same time, but hollow at the same time. I’m me, know what I mean? I’m not Conor McGregor. I’m like no MMA fighter you’ve ever seen.

"He said he was here to takeover, well I’m here to conquer."

Paradoxically, the boldness of the claim only draws nearer to McGregor, who had similar visions before coming to the UFC and winning the featherweight title. McGregor was on course to try and become the first UFC fighter to hold titles in two different weight classes concurrently when he signed on to fight Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196, but the plan was derailed with RDA hurt himself in training.

Now there’s Pimblett, who is 12-1 in his pro career that began four years ago when he was 17 years old. Since that time he has developed a cult following all across the British Isles. With a hair cut like a Middle Ages stonemason and a light touch on the microphone, Pimblett is quickly drawing eyes. 

Yet it’s his fighting that is ultimately getting him places, as evidenced when he won the featherweight title against Johnny Frachey. After hearing the whispers that he didn’t possess power in his hands, Pimblett put away Frachey in 95 seconds via TKO (punches).

The cult legend of "Baddy" Pimblett grew, but he says he didn’t necessarily need the belt to receive additional spotlight. 

"No, to be honest," he said. "I think I got more attention than any of the former Cage Warriors champions even without the belt, got more attention than any of them. The fight wasn’t originally scheduled to be for the belt, so I didn’t really think I needed the belt. But I’m glad I got that gold around my waist. It’s a nice feeling."

Asked what separates him from other fighters, Pimblett, who recently re-signed with Cage Warriors, flashed a bit of his boyish charm on the show.

"Have you seen these pretty boy good looks?" he told Ariel Helwani. "And what happens in the cage. I do stuff in there no one else can do. I’m an entertainer, I put a show on for my fans. I’m comfortable with the microphone as well."

Whereas Conor McGregor has emerged as the biggest star in the UFC via both his ability to sell a fight and to back it up once the cage door locks, Pimblett says he doesn’t put on airs. What translates into stardom, he says, is to simply be yourself.

"Too many fighters go in there and put a mask on and try and be someone they’re not," he said. "And I ain’t that person. Go in there and be yourself."