MMA has a new rising star. He’s been here along. He’s going far and his name is Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett.
Saturday night saw Cage Warriors return to Liverpool with a top-heavy card of local Next Generation talents. In a venue like the Echo Arena that has witnessed some historical, pivotal bouts in Liverpudlian MMA, CWFC 78 was back and ready to ride that very same wave of momentum for another night.
With a big following around the city, each battler received an electric welcome. On a night where all but one Next Gen competitor walked away victorious, Scouse morale was to remain inevitably booming.
Unsurprisingly, though, the ruckus was raised when arguably the brightest featherweight prospect in UK MMA, Paddy Pimblett (12-1) fought Johnny Frachey (16-11) for the vacant CWFC 145-pound title.
This was Pimblett’s first Liverpool outing in over two years and nonchalantly, just like last time, it was achieved inside the first as Paddy stormed through his French nemesis to take home his first TKO victory in five fights, much to the delight of the hometown fans in an explosion of noise that’s simply not been seen on the domestic circuit for some time – if ever.
The roof was raised as beer swilled and swished throughout the Echo and onto the Albert Docks. Holding up his newly found accolade and staking his claim as the best around, one can find it hard to disagree with.
It was a night and an atmosphere that will be tough to forget for all in attendance and, to be honest, if that’s the last time Pimblett is seen before ink touches a sheet of UFC A4 paper, you can’t comprehend a better send-off. Saturday’s display makes it feel that there’s no better time than right now for ‘The Baddy’ to swap yellow for black four-ounce gloves to do battle in the big leagues.
For promoters, letting their stars progress must feel bittersweet. Pimblett has been just that for CWFC since their return, however it doesn’t seem necessary for him to defend the title. The momentum doesn’t feel like it could get any higher going into a move forward. Perfect timing, perfect location and perfect occurrence.
Paddy is a spoke on the wheel for the next generation of ticket selling fighters and that wheel will always keep on turning. Undoubtedly though, if Pimblett is to ride off into the sunset, the next spoke will soon arrive for Cage Warriors. It always finds a way and it always differs from the predecessor.
Another standout on the verge of UFC entry, Chris Fishgold successfully defended his CWFC lightweight title in the main event of CWFC 78, capping the night off as a glorious showing of MMA in Liverpool. Fishgold packs much of the star power his teammate Pimblett has, too, and despite having more bouts under his belt this year than the former, the power is close but not quite symmetrical, respectively.
He’s far from anybody’s apostle, but one more thrilling title defence for ‘Fishy’ could really seal the deal to move on to the UFC and set him on his own path for decorative success amongst the world’s top lightweights.
Liverpool provided beautiful chaos and mirrored something of a smaller scale UFC Dublin 2014. It was loud and crazy with an essence of funk and for the foreseeable future, it’s best not to blink.
Follow Harry on Twitter: @Harry_Williams