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UFC veteran Danny Roberts has stated that he isn’t remotely surprised by Paddy Pimblett’s meteoric rise within the company, ahead of the Liverpudlian’s first fight on a main event card in Las Vegas next month – after just three fights with the organisation. Roberts, who is set to fight against up-and-coming star Jack Della Maddalena at UFC Fight Night 215 in Las Vegas, trained with Pimblett for seven years, as Pimblett begun his journey in Cage Warriors – winning the featherweight title before joining the UFC.
Pimblett has gone on to win all three of his fights in the UFC since joining last year, all coming by way of stoppage in the first two rounds, and all winning performance of the night – with his unorthodox style and vibrant personality seeing him become one of the more universally liked fighters in all of mixed martial arts. At the young age of 27, Pimblett has now developed into a strong all-round fighter, after being a feisty, raw talent in his younger days when training with Roberts.
But Roberts isn’t the least bit surprised to see Pimblett elevate to the level he’s at now, and hopes that he can continue with the path he’s on. Roberts exclusively told Express Sport: “He’s a resilient young kid. As a youngster, he was cocky and he was brash. He would never back down from a fight -whether it was verbal or a fist fight. I think that was always something that was going to prevail. He just needed the platform and now he’s skyrocketed to super stardom.
“I like that, but it comes with side-burners that you have to be careful of, so I hope that he’s doing everything that he needs to do… as somebody who has known him and seen his growth, been around him since he was a kid, when he was vulnerable and didn’t have nothing and struggling – I hope he does what he can to attain it and keep it, because this is a brutal sport to be in. It will always prove to be that way, people come and go all the time because of things that can happen in the octagon.”
The emergence of fighters such as Roberts, Darren Till, Leon Edwards and Pimblett has seen the sport grow in popularity exponentially over the last five years – with talks of a potential stadium fight brewing in the first quarter of 2023, UFC president Dana White has hinted.
Roberts touched on the growth of the sport over that time, and is proud of being able to play apart in that. He said: “The level of exposure it has had through certain individuals has seen it explode. It’s great to see. They are a well-oiled machine.
“And for the UK, we’re in a great era right now… it’s exciting to see where it goes throughout the next few years.For me to be a small part of it’s growth, like a middle-tier guy who has paved the way, it’s a great feeling.”
Roberts will come in as the underdog against the 26-year-old Della Maddalena who many see as a future contender in the welterweight division. The Australian has a 12-2 record, being undefeated since 2016 and impressing in his two wins in the UFC.
Roberts is confident on what he’s going to do on Saturday night though, and is eyeing an opportunity to fight in the upcoming UK card, which UFC president Dana White has insinuated could be held at a stadium.
He said: “Jack has done very well up until this point, but I look at the pedigree of the guys he’s fought – he has not fought a seasoned vet like me who can manipulate the fight. I am the person who will stand in front of him. And as for the UK card, coming back to the UK and doing it for my people has to be done – I have to get the people who grew up around me and supporting me at that fight and see me do my thing, to see what I have come from and what I can do now.”
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