UFC News 2022: Paddy Pimblett backs Alexander Volkanovski to become double champion at UFC 284

Volkanovski, the top-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, has held the featherweight belt since 2019 but moves up a division to take on newly-crowned Russian Islam Makhachev in February in a bid to become a rare double champion.

Ahead of his own bout at UFC 282 on Sunday, undefeated Liverpool lightweight Pimblett told News Corp he would “like to see” Volkanovski take the belt.

“I think he’s an absolutely amazing fighter. He’s top quality. He’s rightfully so pound-for-pound number one in the world. I’d like to see him win the belt,” Pimblett said.

“He’s got a tough task ahead of him, because Islam Makhachev is also an amazing fighter. (But) I back him.”

Pimblett added the weight step-up wouldn’t phase Volkanovski, who used to play rugby league at a purported 200-plus pounds.

“It’s not as if he’s not going to be used to sparring and fighting with bigger men,” Pimblett said.

“He’s a nice fella. I haven’t actually met Alexander, (but) hopefully he’s at the show on the weekend because as I say he’s a very nice fella from what I’ve seen on the internet.”

Pimblett takes on Jared Gordon in Las Vegas on Sunday, a fighter he respects but also says will be knocked out or submitted in the first round.

“He’s standing in my way so I’ve got to hit him, simple as that,” Pimblett said.

“It’ll be a first-round finish. I’ll either knock him out, or hit him with strikes and then submit him when he tries to get me down.”

The Merseyside menace, dubbed ‘The People’s Main Event’, sees the bout as an opportunity to prove he is far more than just a charismatic showman.

“I think my opponents have had a bad wrap because it’s me who’s beat them. People don’t give me the respect I deserve,” he said.

“Us Scousers, when one of us fights somewhere … we take over places, and it’s going to be no different on the weekend.”

The 27-year-old wants to use the platform to act as a role model for the Liverpudlian people, with his motto – “it’s nice to be nice” – a charming contrast from the merciless character that surfaces when he talks about his fights.

“I‘d like to think that I’m being a bit of a role model,” he said. “It’s nice to be nice and a lot of people in this world nowadays don’t appreciate being nice to people and we don’t treat each other how we’d like to be treated.”

Someone who hasn’t been so nice to him is influencer-turned-boxer Jake Paul, who has been taunting him in the lead-up to Sunday’s bout.

Pimblett welcomes the back-and-forth and hopes Paul is in attendance for the UFC’s last numbered card of the year.

“I‘d love for him to come on the show on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) because I’d slap him right across the face.” Pimblett said.

“It makes me laugh that some mushroom on the internet wants to talk shite.”

Pimblett also expressed a desire to fight Conor McGregor on the MMA legend’s way out, though expects he will likely move back up to welterweight.

“He’s looking big at the minute, but we’ll see,” Pimblett said. “I don’t think any fighter on the entire roster would say no to fighting Conor McGregor because of the money implications.”

Originally published as UFC 282: Paddy Pimblett guarantees first-round finish at UFC 282

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