5 logical opponents for Paddy Pimblett after UFC London win

C. Naik
UFC lightweight Paddy Pimblett [Image via @espnmma on Twitter]
UFC lightweight Paddy Pimblett [Image via @espnmma on Twitter]

Paddy Pimblett put on yet another scintillating display in the octagon at UFC London. In his second UFC fight, 'The Baddy' came away with a first-round submission victory over Rodrigo Vargas in front of a raucous English crowd at the O2 Arena in London.

Pimblett doesn't seem to be in a hurry to climb up the lightweight ranks. At just 27, the Scouse sensation still has a long way to go in his career. At the UFC London post-fight press conference, he revealed that he won't fight anyone in the top 15 at 155 pounds until he receives a more lucrative contract.

Ranked featherweight contender Ilia Topuria called out Pimblett following his win over Jai Herbert at UFC London. However, the undefeated Georgian's offer was turned down by the rising English star. Nevertheless, the bout doesn't make a ton of sense, despite the ongoing feud between the two.

The UFC knows how to handle a potential superstar and will be looking to slow-play Pimblett's career. Much like they have done with Conor McGregor in the past and Sean O'Malley presently, the promotion understands that a fighter's stock can take an unnecessary hit if he/she is put in a non-favorable matchup early on in their career.

On that note, we thought we'd take a look at five realistic opponents for Paddy Pimblett following his win at UFC London.

#5. Jared Gordon – Has previously called out Paddy Pimblett

Jared Gordon joined the UFC in 2017 and has endured a turbulent run in the promotion so far. After a 3-3 start in the famed octagon, 'Flash' seemingly found his groove and put together a three-fight winning streak, which he currently finds himself on. In his most recent outing, Gordon secured a split-decision win over Joe Solecki at UFC Vegas 38.

Following his win over Solecki, Gordon called out Paddy Pimblett. 'The Baddy' subsequently responded and seemed open to the matchup.

While the matchup made sense for all parties involved, it didn't come to fruition. It was initially rumored that Paddy Pimblett and Jared Gordon would square off at UFC London. UFC president Dana White even confirmed the same in a previous interview with Barstool Sports' Dave Portnoy.

However, Rodrigo Vargas was then confirmed as Pimblett's next opponent.

Gordon is currently unranked in the UFC lightweight division. Nevertheless, the general consensus is that he is a very good fighter. Two out of his three losses in the UFC came against ranked contender Diego Ferreira and reigning champ Charles Oliveira.

The fact that the promotion was previously eyeing a Gordon-Pimblett matchup goes to show that this bout could come to fruition in the near future.

#4. Matt Frevola – A perfect stylistic matchup for Paddy Pimblett

It's safe to say that Paddy Pimblett has been handed relatively easy matchups in his first two fights in the UFC. He knocked out Luigi Vendramini on his promotional debut last year and choked out Rodrigo Vargas at UFC London to get his career on MMA's biggest stage off to a blistering start.

Considering the hype surrounding Pimblett, the promotion's matchmakers would be wise to hand 'The Baddy' another lower-tier opponent. An ideal opponent for the Liverpool native would be Matt Frevola.

Frevola earned a UFC contract following a successful outing on Dana White's Contender Series in 2017, where he secured a submission victory. Since joining the promotion, the American has blown hot and cold, going 3-3-1. 'The Steamrolla' is coming off a sensational knockout victory over Genaro Valdez at UFC 270.

Frevola is primarily a striker. His seven-second knockout loss to Terrence McKinney at UFC 263 last year showed that he has gaping holes in his game. He would make for a perfect opponent for Paddy Pimblett if the UFC is looking to give the Liverpool native another favorable matchup.

#3. Alexander Hernandez – A true test of Paddy Pimblett's skills on the mic and in the cage

Alexander Hernandez emerged as a polarizing figure in the UFC upon joining the promotion in 2018.

After a stunning knockout victory over Beneil Dariush on his promotional debut and a dominant performance against Olivier Aubin-Mercier in his next bout, Hernandez started making a lot of noise outside the octagon, seemingly taking inspiration from Conor McGregor.

He boasted an incredibly impressive record at the time and some even bought into the hype. With just two UFC fights under his belt, he was booked to fight MMA veteran Donald Cerrone. Leading up to their clash, Hernandez incessantly belittled Cerrone's skills and talked down to him on numerous occasions. When they finally squared off, 'Cowboy' made a statement, cruising to a second-round TKO victory.

After being humbled by 'Cowboy', Hernandez has never looked the same. In his last six fights, he has gone 3-3 and currently sits outside the lightweight rankings. In his most recent appearance inside the octagon, 'The Great' was submitted by Renato Moicano at UFC 271.

While Alexander Hernandez has struggled quite a bit in recent years, he's always been an entertaining fighter. Moreover, his propensity to antagonize his opponents makes for very interesting contests. A potential bout against Paddy Pimblett will undoubtedly generate a ton of attention.

Pimblett's two opponents in the UFC so far, Vendramini and Vargas, are hardly known for their ability to sell fights. The back-and-forth between Hernandez and 'The Baddy' leading up to a potential fight will be a sight to behold. Fans have already caught a glimpse of the Liverpudlian's abilities on the mic. It'll be interesting to see just how good his trash talking game is when he has a willing and able dance partner.

Additionally, a fight against Hernandez will be a true litmus test of Pimblett's skills. 'The Great' is very well-rounded and has the power to knock anyone out. A win here will silence those who critique 'The Baddy's skills and his star power will likely reach new heights.

#2. Diego Ferriera – An opportunity for Paddy Pimblett to break into the rankings

While Paddy Pimblett did make it clear that he isn't interested in ranked fighters in the UFC lightweight division until he receives a better contract, the right matchup could change his mind. Additionally, a win over a ranked contender could fast-track the possibility of a better, more lucrative deal.

UFC veteran Diego Ferriera currently occupies the No.15 spot in the lightweight rankings. The Brazilian has been in the UFC for more than seven years and has faced some of the best fighters the promotion has to offer. He is currently riding a three-fight losing streak and it appears as though his age has finally caught up to him.

While Paddy Pimblett has enjoyed a solid start to his UFC career, his performances have been far from flawless. He's had to overcome adversity in both of his bouts in the octagon so far and many believe he will struggle against top-tier fighters.

Ferriera has only lost to elite fighters during his time in the world's premier MMA promotion, having picked up losses to the likes of Dustin Poirier, Beneil Dariush, Gregor Gillespie and Mateusz Gamrot. At 37, Ferriera is likely on the final stretch of his run in the UFC. Moreover, he has beaten top lightweights like Rustam Khabilov and former champion Anthony Pettis.

All things considered, a potential fight against Pimblett makes a lot of sense.

#1. Michael Johnson – A big name for Paddy Pimblett to potentially add to his record

Michael Johnson has been in the UFC for over a decade. He was a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter: Team St-Pierre vs. Team Koscheck. After making it all the way to the final of the show and coming up short against Jonathan Brookins, he was given a UFC contract in 2011.

Johnson's professional record stands at 19-17. He has fought the biggest names in the lightweight division during his time in the UFC and is vastly experienced. Having fought in high-profile bouts against the likes of Nate Diaz, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje, he has become a known entity even among the casual fans.

More importantly, Johnson has claimed victories over the likes of Tony Ferguson, Joe Lauzon, Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirier. This further highlights that he's no scrub when it comes to cagefighting.

Johnson has seemingly accepted that he won't be competing for UFC titles down the line. However, he still has a name in the promotion and young up-and-coming fighters might be eyeing his scalp as a solid addition to their professional records.

Following his win over Vargas at UFC London, Paddy Pimblett called for his next fight to be at the iconic Anfield stadium in Liverpool. While Pimblett claims that his name alone can fill the stadium, he will likely need a worthy dance partner to sell over 50,000 tickets.

Without a doubt, Pimblett-Johnson bout has the potential to attract a lot of fans.

At the UFC London post-fight press conference, Dana White confirmed that the promotion will be looking to return to England later this year. With Paddy Pimblett's star power continuing to grow, the UFC could choose to strike when the iron's hot.

Seeing his walkout at the O2 Arena was incredible. One can only imagine how a football stadium full of Scousers would embrace 'The Baddy'.

A main event slot opposite a UFC veteran like Michael Johnson could prove to be the perfect springboard for Pimblett's career, similar to Conor McGregor's memorable homecoming in 2014 against Diego Brandao in Dublin, Ireland.

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Edited by Harvey Leonard