Controversial Win at UFC 282 Caps a Weird, Wild Week for Paddy Pimblett

Scott Harris@@ScottHarrisMMAFeatured Columnist IVDecember 11, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 10: Paddy Pimblett of England interacts with the crowd before entering the Octagon prior to facing Jared Gordon in a lightweight fight during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

It was quite a week for Paddy "The Baddy" Pimblett.

The seven days leading up to Saturday's UFC 282 event, which went down from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, came with a bit of controversy for the Liverpool, England native. Fortunately for the fan favorite, Pimblett's week ended on an up note with a unanimous-decision defeat of fellow lightweight Jared Gordon following a back-and-forth bout that was probably closer than his post-fight brashness would allow him to acknowledge.

"It wasn't close…not at all," Pimblett told UFC color commentator and incredibly famous podcaster Joe Rogan in the cage after the fight. "I won the first two rounds, then I coasted in the third because I knew I was up."

That's not the way other observers saw it.

Gordon, who was an underdog coming into the bout, gave Pimblett a run for his money and then some—and far more of one than Pimblett initially let on.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 10: (R-L) Jared Gordon kicks Paddy Pimblett of England in a lightweight fight during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Zuffa LLC)
Carmen Mandato/Zuffa LLC

"Jared is one tough m-----------r," he acknowledged. "You know what I mean? He's a tough man."

Gordon appeared to get the better of Pimblett in the opening round, landing the more accurate and precise strikes. They traded kicks to open the round, followed by an exchange of punches. It unfolded into a solid action round, with Gordon ending up in top position to end the round after a brief ground sequence. According to UFC stats, Gordon landed 58 percent of his significant strike attempts in the round compared with 41 percent for Pimblett.

The second round landed pretty solidly on the Liverpudlian's ledger. The first major offense of the round was a left kick from Pimblett, which Gordon partially blocked but still absorbed. From there it was a back-and-forth round, with both men landing solid blows. A Pimblett left hook found the body.

The thing about Pimblett is how hittable he is. Some fans may forget that he made his bones as a grappler back in his days on the European circuit. Instead of working his craft, however, he keeps his hands low and looks for the brawl instead. And he got it from Gordon, who traded with Pimblett inside the proverbial phone booth. A late flurry from Pimblett—following an eye-poke warning, no less—helped seal the round.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 10: (R-L) Paddy Pimblett of England punches Jared Gordon in a lightweight fight during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)
Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC

Early in the third, Gordon scored a takedown on Pimblett to the mat briefly, though the action ultimately returned to the clinch. After some inactivity, the boos rained down in the arena, but this was Gordon's wheelhouse. The third round was a bit of a slog, but ended with Gordon racking up a dominant 3:53 of control time.

There's a well-worn saying in MMA: never leave it in the hands of the judges. Gordon, despite a workmanlike effort, ultimately fell short in a close contest that saw both fighters give and take a lot of offense. The final score, all 29-28 scores for Pimblett.

Paul Felder @felderpaul

Jared won. Give him the fight

Luke Thomas @lthomasnews

Gordon lost round 1 on two of the cards.<br><br>Gordon won round 3 of two of the cards.<br><br>When up is down and down is up. <a href="https://t.co/gEGLut1RFs">https://t.co/gEGLut1RFs</a>

Derek Brunson @DerekBrunson

The refs on that discord chat . They know damn well my boy Paddy didn't win that 😂😂😂 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UFC282?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UFC282</a>

Funky @Benaskren

I love Paddy saying it wasnt close though LOL.

(It should be noted that the UFC 282 main event, a bout for the vacant light heavyweight title between Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev, ended in a questionable judges' decision that resulted in a split draw and no new champion crowned.)

In thanking Gordon on the mic afterwards, Pimblett referenced Gordon's "trials and tribulations" in a clear nod to Gordon's public battles with addiction—addiction so serious that an overdose once purportedly left him "legally dead" for two minutes. He even expressed interest in getting involved with Gordon's charitable efforts around the issue.

There's no question Pimblett can come off as a likable dude. He's certainly the president of his own fan club, and that's always entertaining in and of itself. But his comments earlier in fight week showed a less-charming side.

UFC 282 fight week had its own tempest in a teapot, courtesy of Pimblett. In cozying up on a podcast hosted by none other than UFC president Dana White, Pimblett accused widely known MMA reporter Ariel Helwani of lacking journalistic integrity and suggested he should pay his interview subjects for their time. It was a much more understandable line of thinking when remembering that White has long feuded with Helwani.

Lewis Glover MMA @LewisGloverMMA

Wow 😮 Paddy the Baddy went IN on Ariel Helwani in his <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UFC282?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UFC282</a> interview with Dana White. <a href="https://t.co/mWageHrdES">https://t.co/mWageHrdES</a> <a href="https://t.co/Myl2nmeoQk">pic.twitter.com/Myl2nmeoQk</a>

On his own show, Helwani offered an extended, vigorous response to the comments, which provided their own ripple effect, and so on.

Pimblett seemed to attempt to make light of it in his post-fight chat with Rogan, asking Rogan "have you consulted my manager to see how much you're paying me for this interview?"

I'm not his manager or anything, but someone might want to give Pimblett some good, old-fashioned media training. Not just on what to say but how it works. Respecting and understanding the professions of those around you is key for a guy whose star is only continuing to grow. Wow, that made me sound like an old man.

As for what's next inside the lines, Pimblett was coy when Rogan asked him about his next opponent.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 10: (L-R) Paddy Pimblett of England reacts after defeating Jared Gordon in a lightweight fight during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Zuffa LLC)
Carmen Mandato/Zuffa LLC

"We'll see," he said.

Pimblett is now 20-3 overall and 4-0 since jumping to the UFC in 2021. This was the first of his fights to go to a decision. He's got a high-wattage personality, he's got flaws in his game that leave him vulnerable to the right opponent, and he's a talented and genuinely tough competitor with all the makes of a tentpole star for the UFC, across the pond as well as in Las Vegas.