‘People are calling me a Muslim-hater’: UFC newcomer Paddy Pimblett dismisses Khabib’s trolls ahead of long-awaited debut (VIDEO)

Paddy 'The Baddy' Pimblett will become the latest in a long line of former Cage Warriors champions to debut in the UFC this weekend, and the Liverpool man predicts that he will make as big an impact as Conor McGregor before him.

Anyone who has ever crammed themselves into Liverpool's Echo Arena for a Paddy Pimblett fight knows that there's something a bit special when it comes to the fiery blonde Scouser. 

The – let's face it – extremely likeable Pimblett has long been considered one of Liverpool's favorite fighting sons thanks to a blistering run through the Cage Warriors promotion for whom he first fought in 2013 at the tender age of just 18 years old, eventually winning their 145lbs world title.

But it wasn't just the fact that he was winning: it was the manner of his victories which so enthralled the paying public. Pimblett, a submission ace, knows every trick in the book when it comes to contorting his opponents and boasts a highlights reel of spectacular finishes in his 16 career wins.

Ahead of a significant uptick in competition in what will be his UFC debut against Luigi Vendramini, RT Sport finds Pimblett in very confident form.

"I've seen it all: my future. I know my destiny," Pimblett told RT Sport's Danny Armstrong. "I know what's coming. I've said this in a few interviews now; there was Brock, there was Ronda, there was Conor – now there's Paddy the Baddy.

"It's going in that order, and then there will be someone after me. But for now, it's gotta be me. I'm going to bring a whole new generation to MMA, just like Conor did before me, just like Ronda did before him and Brock did before her."

As with any task of this magnitude, that will take some time. But Pimblett's first opportunity to make good on his prophecy comes inside the UFC Apex this weekend on a fight card stacked to the brim with talent and headlined by his fellow Scouser, Darren Till. 

And he says that once Saturday's work is done, he's coming for anyone and everyone at 155lbs – even, one day, the most avoided fighter in the division in Islam Makhachev. 

"I'm not going to fight Islam for a while, I'm not going to fight anyone in the top five for a while," he explained. "When I get in the cage on Saturday, people are going to be like, 'He looks bigger than he did in his last fight'. I'm getting muscle mass all the time now that I'm doing a proper [strength and conditioning] regime.

"I'm not a small lightweight now – I'm just not. A lot of people think I am because I fought at feather[weight] in the past and I've been a child when I've fought. But I'm a man now and I'm in my man body. I think I'm going to be bigger than Luigi when we fight. I genuinely do."

Before that, though, might come a little of the pageantry that fans have come to know from Pimblett – and he says that Till might be able to lend a hand.

"I'm going to get some Portuguese off Till so I can give him some abuse. When I bump into him in the hotel, I'll say to him, 'What's a few words?'"

Pimblett also recently generated headlines over a text message exchange with another man to have held the Cage Warriors 145lbs strap, when Conor McGregor and the prospect engaged in a twitter conversation that had some fans scratching their heads.

"I understood it lad, I understood it," said Pimblett of the back and forth. "What he was saying was good luck, obviously, and then he was saying he was in Liverpool he was supposedly outside my house, and he was with someone who's now doing 30 years in jail. That's what he was getting at.

"At the time, I knew he wasn't outside my house because my mum has CCTV so she had a little look on the cameras for me because obviously, lad, if McGregor was outside my ma's in 2017, I would have video'd that and put it on my Vimeo. You should have messaged me, lad!

"I wish he was [outside]. I would have went out and partied with him, or had a fight with him – whatever he wanted to do!"

Pimblett, whose Instagram account was recently disabled after he said he 'gave as good as he got' when it came to trolls pestering him online, has found himself targeted by a legion of Russian fight fans – many of whom, he says, are upset that Pimblett referred to Khabib Nurmagomedov as the 'Karen of MMA' after he expressed his disapproval of Mike Tyson smoking cannabis on his popular 'Hotboxin'' podcast.

"People say I'm a McGregor fanboy because I've said something about Khabib. I'm not no-one's fanboy, lad. I never have been," Pimblett explained.

"I'm getting all sorts of Russians and Muslims [targeting me] for calling Khabib the 'Karen' of the MMA world. I'm getting messages saying, 'I'm going to f*ck your mother and sh*t on your father's grave.' I don't think Khabib would really like messages like that – all his fanboys are sending me messages.

"They're commenting on a picture I put up to help a sick kid get money donated. It's embarrassing... people are calling me a 'Muslim hater' and that I hate Khabib – I don't hate Khabib at all, I think he's the 155 GOAT, but I just don't think he's the actual GOAT of the sport."

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And this, in essence, is what makes Paddy Pimblett such an engaging figure in a sport already filled with engaging figures.

His arrival on the UFC scene has long been predicted by his ever-growing army of supporters after years of 'what if?' armchair matchmaking.

Those fights can happen now. Makhachev. Rafael Dos Anjos. Maybe even McGregor – outside of his house or inside the Octagon.

It will remain to be seen whether Pimblett can reach the types of heights in the sport that both he and his fans swear he will, but it certainly seems likely that, before he hangs up his gloves, Paddy 'The Baddy' Pimblett will have made his mark on the UFC.

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