UFC legend and ONE Championship flyweight Demetrious Johnson has described the difference between his fighting mindset and that of rising star Paddy Pimblett.
While Johnson, a former dominant champion on MMA’s biggest stage, has been at the top of the sport for a number of years, Pimblett has only recently broken through onto the mainstream scene. He’s done so via back-to-back finishes in his first two UFC outings, as well as an entertaining and outspoken personality.
After dispatching Luigi Vendramini on debut last September, Pimblett’s sophomore outing came last month in front of a home crowd at UFC London. Given his first-round submission win and the memorable crowd reaction that followed, it’s safe to say the Englishman followed through on his pre-fight claims, both in terms of performance and his UK popularity.
But despite his rapid rise to fame outside the cage, Pimblett is expecting a slow approach to the top, which is to be dictated by his place on the UFC’s pay scale.
Following his debut, “The Baddy” suggested he wouldn’t be agreeing to a meeting in the cage with a top-10 opponent until he moves onto a six-figure UFC deal. During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, “Mighty Mouse” Johnson reacted to that stance.
While he understands Pimblett’s reluctance to face the best while on a $12k/$12k deal with the promotion, Johnson admitted that mindset is a far cry from how he approached his own early days in the UFC.
“Paddy Pimblett, he said, ‘Man, I’m not gonna fight a top 10 or top 15 (opponent).’ I’m like, ‘What?!’ See, my mindset back in the day when I fought, Matt (Hume) says, ‘We just f*ckin’ fight. That’s what we do. Don’t worry about the money, the money’s gonna come. Just keep on fighting, keep on fighting.’
“So when he (Pimblett) said, I think he said he won’t take or top 10 or top 15 ’cause he’s making 12 and 12 (thousand). I understand that. That is, you know, for how much he’s bringing to the table—contracts, it is what it is. Sh*t, when I first fought, it was three and three.”
Johnson Showed His Willingness To Fight The Best At ONE X
In regards to fighting the best in the sport, Johnson has certainly put his money where his mouth is, not only across the past decade but also in his most recent outing.
At ONE X, ONE Championship’s 10-year anniversary spectacle, “Mighty Mouse” took on a unique challenge. He featured in a mixed-rules superfight against the consensus Muay Thai best, Rodtang Jitmuangnon, who boasts a mind-boggling 267-42-10 record in the striking discipline at the age of just 24.
Johnson cited his willingness to throw down with the Thai fighter outside of his comfort zone as evidence of how his mindset differs from that of Pimblett’s and other modern up-and-comers in the sport.
“Him (Pimblett) saying he won’t take a top 15, I’m like, when they were like, ‘Wanna fight Rodtang, the best fighter in the world?’ I was like, ‘Sure, let’s do it.’ They were like, ‘You wanna fight in Muay Thai?’ I was like, ‘I don’t even own a Muay Thai belt, but I’ll fight him in Muay Thai…’ We get paid to fight. We don’t get paid to pick and choose what we’re gonna do,” concluded Johnson.
What’s your take on Paddy Pimblett’s unwillingness to face a top-10 opponent on his current UFC contract?