If you have anything bad to say about the home of The Beatles, you better not say it around a certain group of MMA fighters.
When it comes to the fight game, a few Liverpool natives—Liverpudlians, as they are known—are giving their hometown comrades a reason to "Twist and Shout," if you will.
It's a timely rise to success given that UFC Fight Night 130 goes down Sunday from Liverpool. At the top of the card is local boy Darren Till, the hard-charging knockout artist with the undefeated record. He fears no man nor microphone. If he can upset kickboxing protege Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson, he'll be on the fast track to stardom.
Till headlines the first UFC event ever held in his hometown. But he's not the only Liverpudlian making waves on the MMA scene. Here's what you need to know about the fighting Liverpudlians, including some choice video clips.
Darren Till (16-0-1), Welterweight, UFC
A draw launched Till into the MMA consciousness. His 2015 bout with Nicolas Dalby left the scorecards knotted and the two fighters with Fight of the Night honors.
His profile reached a higher level in October when he crushed Donald Cerrone with a first-round knockout, something that netted Till another post-fight bonus.
Till's knockout power is well-understood. The southpaw has 10 knockouts to his name, all of which can trace a straight line to the cinderblocks in his hands. But unlike your classic Western European MMA fighter, Till's ground game is pretty solid, too.
Although he cut his teeth as a counter fighter, he showed against Cerrone that he's not afraid to lead the dance—or bull his way inside, for that matter. A standing left elbow wobbled "Cowboy," then Till completed the upset with straight combinations.
After the fight, Till called out Florida Man Mike Perry, but Thompson is a bigger fish in rankings and skill. Till will need to thread a thin needle with Thompson, working his way inside without catching a round kick to the skull.
If he can successfully thread said needle, he'll be the Paul McCartney of Liverpool MMA and likely never pay for a pint again anywhere within city limits.
However, he's not the only one leading the movement. McCartney had his John Lennon. Conor McGregor had his Cathal Pendred. Till isn't steering this rig alone.
Paddy Pimblett (14-2), Featherweight/Lightweight, Cage Warriors
Paddy Pimblett is a bona fide star in British MMA circles, and he has the skills to back it up. The mop top doesn't hurt his Liverpudlian cred either.
You may know Cage Warriors as the respected British promotion that cultivated McGregor, Michael Bisping, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Dan Hardy and a slew of others. So it isn't just some random show.
Pimblett tore through the featherweight division and won the title. His looks and his brashness made him a full-blown sensation, but he was just as impressive while the actual fight was happening. Remember that Till has wrestling skills? Well, this Liverpudlian does him one better—his primary arsenal is grappling.
The 23-year-old is part of a new generation of MMA native, with half his pro wins coming by submission. He is some kind of impressive. How many fighters outside UFC and/or American borders earn Submission of the Month honors? Pimblett did for the flying triangle he threw on Alexis Savvidis in February to get back on track after losing his title to Nad Narimani.
King Conor himself didn't appear on broadcaster Ariel Helwani's influential MMA Hour program until he left Cage Warriors for the UFC. Pimblett did.
Pimblett's fight career also has had a brush with external hysteria on another level than those of yesteryear. The night he lost his title to Narimani, there was violence outside when a man was stabbed and several arrests occurred. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt. While you hate to see this kind of incident, no matter how isolated, it likely only increased Pimblett's mystique.
And when you're talking about Liverpool, mystique is half the battle. Till and Pimblett are ascending to the Liverpudlian Hall of Fame. Before they're done, they could go a lot further than that—and inspire a new generation of mop top MMA fighters along the way.