Monday, May 16, 2022

Dana White Rejects Narrative Of UFC London “Set-Up Fights”

UFC President Dana White has rejected the narrative that this past weekend’s London event featured hometown “set-up fights.”

For the first time in three years, the Octagon returned to England’s capital on Saturday. With it came a host of UK stars, contenders, and prospects all looking to put on a show in front of their home crowd inside the famed O2 Arena.

While Mike Grundy, Jai Herbert, and Cory McKenna fell short in their respective clashes, the night was certainly a fruitful one overall for British MMA, with Tom Aspinall, Paddy Pimblett, Molly McCann, Arnold Allen, Paul Craig, Jack Shore, and Muhammad Mokaev all emerging victorious.

While the likes of Alexander Volkov, Dan Hooker, and Nikita Krylov undoubtedly represented tough competition, many have suggested certain matchups were engineered for the hometown favorites to comfortably secure their moment.

At the post-fight press conference, White rejected that sentiment, claiming every local name fought “tough” competition.

“They were all fighting real people,” asserted White. “These weren’t like, hometown set-up fights. They fought tough guys.”

White further shared that view later in his interaction with the media when assessing the performance of one of the card’s most popular names.

White: Pimblett Showed He’s The Real Deal

After a first-round knockout against Luigi Vendramini on debut, the anticipation for Paddy Pimblett’s sophomore UFC appearance was certainly high. That only increased after the Liverpudlian’s fight week altercation with Ilia Topuria and usual confident mindset.

And despite appearing hurt early, as he also did last September against Vendramini, “The Baddy” recovered to once again finish it before the first round-ending horn. The ensuing celebrations saw the O2 erupt and merseyside friends Pimblett and McCann parading with each other in the cage.

While some have suggested Pimblett was gifted a low-level opponent in order to secure a memorable main card moment in front of a home crowd, Dana White believes the former Cage Warriors champion showed the MMA community that he’s the “real deal.”

“This week, I was getting tired of hearing, ‘Oh, wait ’till you see his walk, wait ’till you see this and that.’ I’m like, ‘I wanna see him fight. He needs to win.’ But he did. And he did spectacularly,” said White. “And when he was in trouble, he came back, and turned the fight around, and won.

“All the talk going into this fight about his walk-in and all this sh*t, listen, it’s real. This kid’s got a ton of hype behind him. Tonight he showed everybody that he’s the real deal,” concluded White.

While Pimblett’s rising stardom is undeniable, as was proven by the fact his pre-fight face-off with Vargas did nearly double the numbers of the main event on social media, it appears the jury is still out for many when it comes to his credentials in a stacked UFC lightweight division.

With his plan being to fight at least two more times in 2022, “The Baddy” will hope to turn more heads by continuing his perfect start on MMA’s biggest stage.

What did you make of the matchups at UFC London?

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