If UFC lightweight Jordan Leavitt crossed the Atlantic not knowing what to expect from the UK fanbase, he’s certainly returned home with a firm understanding.
Last weekend, Leavitt left United States shores to fight on foreign soil for the first time. When it comes to venturing into hostile territory, a visit to England’s capital to face arguably the nation’s fastest-rising mixed martial artist perhaps tops the list.
For the second time this year, Liverpool’s Paddy Pimblett tore the roof off The O2 with a memorable submission victory. While Rodrigo Vargas was the victim in March, it was the turn of “The Monkey God” on July 23.
But prior to tapping out to a rear-naked choke in the second round, Leavitt got to experience an MMA environment inside a a London arena, which is something that UFC President Dana White has touted as a must-do experience for fans of the sport.
“They were loud. My skull was vibrating,” Leavitt said during an interview with The MMA-Holes. “The O2 is massive. It was full. Before this, the biggest crowd I was ever in front of was 17,000, and that was huge. So, this was 3,000 more than that… It was pretty wild.
“I just felt like the entire room was shaking. Like, if I was deaf, I could’ve heard them cheering. Then when (Pimblett) walked out… they’re all going nuts. Going absolutely crazy. It was pretty cool,” Leavitt added.
And what made up those 20,000 fans who greeted Leavitt as he made his walk to the Octagon? Brits who’d had their drinking capabilities doubted by the lightweight prospect during fight week…
In the handbook of things not to challenge a British fan to do, ‘get drunk’ would certainly make the top five. And after his experience, perhaps Leavitt will be putting it at number one ahead of his next trip across the pond…
Leavitt Receives Rude Realization: “They’re Mean”
Throughout his media day interview, Leavitt repeatedly downplayed the reputation of UK crowds, suggesting that the narrative it could have an effect on him pre-fight was all a “placebo” that he could avoid.
Now, having experienced a walk inside a packed-out O2 arena, Leavitt has reached some conclusions — namely, ‘UK fans are mean’.
“They’re mean. They’re very mean,” Leavitt said. “Like, I heard about every insult I’ve ever heard in my life. Very, very mean stuff; very surprising for a very progressive country. I said in the press conference like, ‘How drunk could they be by 9:30,’ and they took that as a challenge, man. They’re like, ‘Oh, we’ll show you.’
“They were raucous, they were mean. Some of them would even act really nice like, ‘Jordan! Jordan!’ Reach for me, I look at them, and they’re like, ‘F you!’ I’m like, ‘Oh, dude, what the hell?’ It was pretty damn funny… very tense, very aggressive crowd. About the whitest crowd you’ll be at besides Utah.”
Nevertheless, while he had to endure an insult-ridden walk to the Octagon and a likely similar exit post-defeat, Leavitt still described the event as “cool.” However, the American admitted that he’d like to experience a similar crowd that includes fans on his side next time.
“It was an extreme experience. I’m kind of bummed I’ll never have something like that again,” Leavitt said. “A lot of commentators are like, ‘We’ve never heard boos that bad in our lives.’ I’m like, ‘Well that’s kinda cool because it wasn’t even that bad. It was kinda fun actually.’ I can’t wait to have a crowd that likes me.”
While Leavitt had targeted an upset victory in London, he left the capital city with a second defeat added to his UFC record. He’ll now look to rebound next time out, while the Pimblett express rolls onto its next stop and the next man hoping to prove that “The Baddy” is nothing but hype.
Were you impressed by Paddy Pimblett’s submission victory over Jordan Leavitt at UFC London?