It might not appear to be the most effective answer on the floor given rising star and UFC light-weight prospect Paddy Pimblett’s latest hiccups — each contained in the Octagon and within the court docket of public opinion — but there is a case to be made for an instantaneous superfight with the potential to treatment all ills for each the promotion and fighter.
Pimblett (20-3), the brash 27-year-old native of Liverpool, England, noticed his potential as a future 155-pound title challenger referred to as into query final Saturday at UFC 282 when, in simply his fourth look contained in the Octagon, “The Baddy” struggled to assert a extremely disputed choice win over Jared Gordon.
Even worse, the battle got here simply days after Pimblett, whereas interviewing UFC president Dana White on his personal podcast, created a regrettable public feud with MMA journalist Ariel Helwani that has left followers questioning Pimblett’s character following a meteoric 15-month rise that noticed him turn into one of many promotion’s most recognizable manufacturers on a worldwide degree.
So how would possibly one try to repair the present predicament in as grandiose and financially pleasing a transfer as potential? Bear with me for a second on this one.
How about Pimblett versus Conor McGregor on pay-per-view. Next. And in a European stadium, in addition — whether or not that be Croke Park in Dublin or London’s Wembley Stadium?
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On the floor, this would possibly appear to be an excessive response to a fairly tame predicament. Combat sports activities is among the most fickle environments the place you might be solely pretty much as good as your final efficiency, which suggests Pimblett may conceivably restore his present narrative by trying good in his subsequent battle.
But in terms of battle promotion, timing usually is every part and the primary half of 2023 is likely to be as excellent a time as ever to capitalize on the latest flip of occasions fairly than reduce them. Not to say, that is already a battle Pimblett has been calling for on the common and even predicted would break the UFC document for PPV buys.
The 34-year-old McGregor (22-6) hasn’t fought in 17 months after breaking his leg in his trilogy battle with Dustin Poirier. The former two-division champion has misplaced three of his final 4 fights and hasn’t recorded a victory at light-weight in six years.
Not solely does McGregor badly want a comeback opponent who’s beatable, and brings the potential for “The Notorious” to rehab his broken model, reserving a battle towards the all of a sudden maligned Pimblett, who many have already been written off as nothing greater than a McGregor clone, additionally provides the UFC an opportunity to advertise its greatest star in historical past as a “child face” — to steal an expert wrestling time period — for the primary time since he snapped a two-year layoff in 2020 by demolishing a pale Donald Cerrone.
The key side to this from a promotional standpoint is that McGregor’s future stays decidedly unknown given age, harm and inactivity. All of the optimistic accolades he obtained for the way surprisingly humble he acted towards Cerrone was washed away within the consecutive defeats towards Poirier, which noticed McGregor act maniacal all through. The majority of press the Irish star has obtained in 2022 has additionally been largely unfavorable, together with performance-enhancing drug accusations from many within the sport.
Pimblett, who turned professional as a bantamweight, is of course smaller than McGregor and has but to indicate definitively via 4 UFC fights towards sub-elite competitors that he is pretty much as good as McGregor was, and even nonetheless is.
Yet the actual cause this battle is so excellent for Pimblett, proper now, is that it is finally a no-lose scenario.
Pimblett’s flat efficiency towards Gordon, which noticed him admit after the battle that he coasted in Round 3 believing he was up on the scorecards, may’ve simply as simply been a loss, which is in regards to the worst-case state of affairs for the UFC of its “subsequent large factor” (particularly from the standpoint of European enlargement) being uncovered by an unranked and largely unheralded opponent. The battle was additionally a harsh reminder that Pimblett’s incomplete sport and defensive holes won’t be suited to title rivalry in such a harmful division to start with.
A loss to McGregor, particularly if it had been to happen at 170 kilos, can be simply forgiven for Pimblett. And ought to he support in making the battle the enjoyable spectacle of trash speak and toe-to-toe buying and selling, there are undoubtedly loads of ethical victories that would come for Pimblett ought to he lose.
But what about if Pimblett wins? There merely is not another opponent on the roster able to giving Pimblett the form of industrial rub that McGregor brings, which suggests a victory would make the latest drama disappear whereas additionally doubling (if not tripling) the dimensions of Pimblett’s rising star.
A victory over McGregor may also permit Pimblett to chop the road within the general light-weight title image — not dissimilar to McGregor’s path to the 155-pound title — with out having to defeat high-risk, low-reward opponents alongside the best way to get there.
At the top of the day, this can be a enterprise and few fighters in latest reminiscence have proven the form of star potential Pimblett has as a possible successor to McGregor to turn into the promotion’s subsequent PPV star. Finding out straight away by matching him towards McGregor in a possible passing of the torch can be the quickest solution to discover out, proper now, with little or no long-term danger exterior of Pimblett getting harm.
UFC has been on fireplace in recent times and proved throughout the pandemic that it may paved the way in retaining its present on the highway. But if there was any criticism in 2022, it was the promotion’s lack of crossover PPV choices that assist the game increase into a fair greater mainstream viewers.
Should the UFC make Jon Jones-Francis Ngannou or Alex Pereira-Israel Adesanya subsequent yr, that will be a fantastic begin. But each fights would wrestle to create as a lot curiosity or transfer as a lot product as a one-off spectacle like McGregor-Pimblett would possibly do straight away.
Timing is every part and the correct time is now.