Former UFC star Chael Sonnen doesn’t believe that lightweight prospect Paddy Pimblett will be interested in fighting at the London-held pay-per-view next March.
Pimblett has certainly made a splash in his first full calendar year inside the Octagon. After giving fans a taste of the entertainment he can bring on debut last September, knocking Luigi Vendramini out at UFC Vegas 36, “The Baddy” put on a pair of shows at two cards held in England’s capital this year.
As well as two memorably raucous walkouts through his home crowd, the Liverpool native delivered submission finishes at both events. While March’s UFC London card saw Pimblett defeat Kazula Vargas inside one round, the former Cage Warriors champion also impressed four months later when he got the better of Jordan Leavitt.
Although the two outings on UK soil appeared to increase Pimblett’s stardom to no end, his third appearance of 2022 didn’t quite play out the same way.
While his first pay-per-view appearance in Las Vegas earlier this month culminated in another win inside the Octagon, it certainly wasn’t without controversy, with many fighters, fans, and pundits believing that Jared Gordon deserved to have his hand raised.
Having perhaps lost some of his shine and popularity owing to the result and his handling of it, it’s been questioned whether “The Baddy” will look to accelerate his return timeline in 2023 to boost his stock back up at UFC 286, the first PPV set for England since 2016.
Well, according to one former two-division title challenger, the answer is no…
Sonnen: ‘Pimblett Won’t Want London Return After Taste Of Vegas’
During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, former UFC middleweight and light heavyweight contender Chael Sonnen assessed what could be next for Pimblett entering the new year.
After pointing to #15-ranked lightweight Grant Dawson’s offer to cross the pond to meet Pimblett inside The O2 on March 18, Sonnen attempted to highlight a “misconception” fans and fighters have regarding the Liverpool native’s perceived ‘desire’ to fight in the UK.
“As soon as he said, ‘I’m willing to go to London,’ thinking that was gonna sweeten the pot. ‘Oh, he’s gotta get somebody to go to London.’ Paddy just did a fight and it wasn’t in London,” Sonnen said. “Whatever’s gonna be next for Paddy, whether that’s gonna be in London or if he’s fought his way out of London — that’s a misconception by you. You think he’s gonna want somebody to come to London so he can fight in front of his home crowd.
Interestingly, prior to his last appearance in London, Pimblett suggested that his UFC outings will be reserved for PPV appearances or an event at Anfield in his home city moving forward. With that, he noted that another bout at The O2 is unlikely.
And while the announcement of a numbered event in England’s capital has left some predicting Pimblett’s return to the famed arena, Sonnen believes that the issue is more down to location than the event status.
“So I’m sharing with you, I don’t think you’ve got it right thinking you’re sweetening the pot by making Paddy fight at home. I think he finally found a way to get out of there and he doesn’t want to go back,” Sonnen concluded.
Pimblett’s placement in the co-main event of a UFC PPV last time out certainly provided some context behind his developing star on MMA’s biggest stage. But nevertheless, it’s safe to say that his supporters back home will still be hoping to see him make some local appearances down the line.
Following his latest triumph, “The Baddy” noted that he’d like to fit another bout in prior to his wedding in May. With that in mind, it would appear an appearance at UFC 286 or at a planned April pay-per-view sit as the Liverpudlian’s two options.
In Sonnen’s mind, it’s probably likely to be the latter.
Do you agree with Chael Sonnen? Is Paddy Pimblett unlikely to want a home fight?
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