Pimblett and Ferguson to Steal the Show at UFC 296

November 15, 2023
4 months

The event title might be UFC 296: Edwards vs. Covington, but everyone knows that Paddy Pimblett and Tony Ferguson are going to be one of the main attractions at the T-Mobile Arena in December. What exactly will play out when the two fighters enter the octagon?


Pimblett Could Go 21-3

One of the UFC’s hottest commodities right now is Paddy Pimblett. The man from Liverpool made a name for himself fighting on cards in the United Kingdom before joining Dana White’s roster in 2021. Four fights into his UFC career, his stature has gone through an exponential rise in popularity. He’s now transcending MMA audiences in the UK, having collaborated with social media influencer Amelia Dimoldenberg on various projects.

What happens if he does win? Well, it will be a welcome return considering that he’ll have been out of action for over a year since his last fight – as an ankle injury reared up shortly after his victory over Jared Gordon back at UFC 282. Pimblett would showcase that he can mix it up with the best that UFC has to offer and will demand another big opponent in the octagon. Some MMA gatekeepers don’t rate Pimblett just yet, with a lot believing that he will be another ‘Conor McGregor hype fighter,’ where he attracts fans to the sport for a relatively short space of time. Defeating Ferguson might win over some of the hardcore fans, given the latter’s stature in the world of MMA.


Lose-Lose for Pimblett?

Sean O’Malley has a few similarities to Paddy Pimblett. Both of them have unusual hair; even if O’Malley’s is typically a little zanier than Pimblett’s, neither are conventional cuts. O’Malley once started where Pimblett did, too, in his career. Picked from somewhat obscurity to the UFC ranks, he’s gone on to win the UFC Bantamweight Championship. Therefore, O’Malley can comment with first-hand experience on Pimblett’s career trajectory. He’s unconvinced that this fight will drastically change how the Englishman will be perceived if he wins. While he can get a solid name on his resume if he triumphs, Tony Ferguson’s current streak is six consecutive defeats. For context, his last victory came before the COVID-19 pandemic.

O’Malley thinks that there’s little to gain by beating him but thinks that if the T-Ferg of old comes out, then it could be serious trouble for Pimblett. O’Malley is right because Ferguson wouldn’t keep fighting if he didn’t think he could win. If Pimblett gets upset here, then it will seriously stunt his progression in the UFC ranks.

It’s also worth noting that Pimblett’s fanbase might not be as swelled as it is right now should he lose this fight. Typically, the hype sensation around a fighter instantly drops off after a loss. Storied combatants like Ferguson can endure multiple losses where the popularity gently fades, in some cases unchanged even with an additional L on the record.


Can Ferguson Break his Losing Streak?

Tony Ferguson. The man is MMA and UFC royalty. His career spans back to 2008 when he debuted within the California Xtreme Fighting program. Throughout the 2010s, he became a mainstay of the UFC PPV cards, as he gained exceptional popularity, collecting multiple accolades including four Fight of the Night awards, two performances of the night, and even a submission of the night.

Justin Gaethje is the man who put a spanner in the works. His punch in the fifth round of their main event fight at UFC 249 not only took Ferguson out of the UFC Lightweight Championship picture but put him on this downward spiral. Five further losses (with the last three via stoppage) have indicated Ferguson to be a bit of a chump to new MMA audiences. His mind might still be in the same place as when he was commanding the division, but his body at 39 years old might not be able to cope with it.

Of course, there is the possibility that he’s not fully gone just yet. Paddy Pimblett could be a prime target to get Ferguson back on track. Youth against experience hasn’t taken a better embodiment in the octagon than this fight. Pimblett is a remarkable fighter, but he’s incredibly green compared to Ferguson. In addition, Ferguson has been a lot more active as Pimblett has had to nurse his ankle back to health.

So if T-Ferg can wind back the clock and send the young Liverpudlian back to the docks with an L, what does it do for the veteran fighter? Well, it will be a ranking change rather than a popularity change. Even if Ferguson loses this fight and ten more after it, there will still be a demand to watch him fight. Whether Dana White squeezes every penny out of him or someone else signs him up, people will still buy PPV to watch him. Moreover, a successful venture for Ferguson puts him back up the pecking order. It’s important to remember that this fight isn’t the official main event here on UFC 296. If he wins, maybe it will get a co-main berth for his next bout and potentially a main event after that.

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