Having joined the UFC just three years ago, it’s safe to say Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett has comfortably reached British icon and cult hero status. Two stunning victories in London last year, his glowing, vibrant personality and his vital dialogue on mental health are just some of the factors that have propelled the Liverpool-based fighter to internet fame, boasting 2.4 million followers on Instagram.
As he prepares to return to the ring next month at UFC 296, Pimblett is bursting with energy as he meets NME in a central London hotel – for the latest instalment in our Firsts series – buzzing from a weekend trip to Anfield to see his beloved Liverpool FC. There’s been plenty of happier memories since his first visit, as he recalls. “A 2-1 loss in the cup to Grimsby Town. They scored a free-kick late on, it’s embarrassing to be honest. A lot of better memories since then! [I was there] when we beat Man City 3-0, that was a special day.”
Pimblett also names the first gig he ever attended, an avid fan of rap music from a young age. “People are going to be shocked at this – Kano, at the O2 Academy in Liverpool. We had a belter of a night, I think we were only about 13 or 14. I went with some of my older pals.” Eminem and 50 Cent are two other figures who soundtracked his teenage years, but he unashamedly cites boy band Five as his genuine first musical love.
Blasting his playlist in the gym is a common feature of Pimblett’s training camps, where you can often find him singing and sparring at the same time. Likening it to everyday karaoke in a sense, his first choice song at karaoke is one you “can’t go wrong” with. ‘December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)’ by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – it’s an elite shout.
Check back at NME soon for more Firsts interviews with some of music and entertainment’s biggest names. For now, though, you can revisit our recent Firsts interviews with the likes of Suede, Peter Crouch, Liam Gallagher, Interpol, Lucy Dacus and Måneskin.
Paddy Pimblett takes on Tony Ferguson at UFC 296: Edwards vs. Covington on December 16th live on TNT Sports.