Since it’s inception in 2001 Cage Warriors has had many future UFC stars pass through its doors. The likes of Dan Hardy, Gegard Mousasi, Michael Bisping and others have showcased their skills before leaving for pastures new.
Without a doubt, the biggest star of the lot was a certain Irishman. Conor McGregor was a two-weight world champion in Cage Warriors before he left for the UFC and became the biggest star the sport has ever known.
The latest star in Cage Warriors who looks a dead cert to leave for the UFC in the near future is Paddy Pimblett. There are similarities with Pimblett and McGregor.
Pimblett like McGregor is a former Cage Warriors featherweight champion, and has his sights set on being a double champ to match McGregor now he to has moved up to lightweight.
McGregor and Pimblett have something which very fighters have, an ability with the verbals. Some try to copy McGregor and others, but you sense it’s forced, it’s not natural, Pimblett is a natural.
In cage skills are not always enough these days, you need a little more, you have to have the ability to sell yourself, Pimblett has it.
Like McGregor, Pimblett is backed by a passionate fanbase. Having witnessed his home crowd in Liverpool on Saturday night at Cage Warriors 90, I can definitely see a UFC card in Liverpool with Pimblett on it, and the likes of Darren Till and even ‘Meatball Molly McCann’ on it also, coming very close to a McGregor card in Dublin.
Pimblett (14-2) has something which I feel could make him a very big star indeed in the UFC if he keeps winning a move looks inevitable, if he hadn’t lost his Cage Warriors belt last year, he would probably be there already.
The loss might actually be a blessing for him, it gives Pimblett a chance to grow and enhance his MMA skills further. Pimblett is still only 23, he’s got plenty of time to grow, so another fight or two in Cage Warriors before the move, wouldn’t be a bad thing in my opinion.
If Pimblett does get the lightweight shot in April then he would go to the UFC as a two-weight champion if he emerged victorious, obviously matching what McGregor did.
The loss last year was a wake-up call to Pimblett, fail to prepare properly usually ends up in a fail, Pimblett knows that now.
Moving up to lightweight is also a positive going forward, although I wouldn’t totally rule out a move back to featherweight at some point. But without depleting his body to make featherweight, Pimblett should greatly benefit. If a fight goes long and hard, especially at a higher level, Pimblett can’t afford to fade like he did when he lost his belt.
The UFC badly needs new stars to emerge, sometime in the next 12 months, Pimblett could very be that man.