It’s years overdue, but UFC Vegas 36 will present the long-awaited UFC debut for Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett. He faces a tough challenge on his first test in the octagon, with “The Italian Stallion” Luigi Vendramini looking to find his second win in the promotion.
The event is filled with British talent, Darren Till faces off against Derek Brunson in the main event. Heavyweight Tom Aspinall meets Sergey Spivak in the co-main event. Undefeated Welshman Jack Shore looks to make it four wins in the promotion and Pimblett’s NextGen teammate Molly McCann looks to end her torrid streak with a win over Ji Yeon Kim.
Meet the Lightweights: Pimblett vs Vendramini
Finally, yes finally, this weekend we will be witnessing Paddy Pimblett making his first appearance in the UFC octagon. The former Cage Warriors featherweight champion has had some brilliant wins in his career, but if he can come away victorious this Saturday, this one should top the charts.
After a defeat to Cameron Else early on in Pimblett’s career, he came back with a vengeance and took a storm on the featherweight division. A five-fight win streak in the promotion saw him come up against Johnny Frachley for the vacant belt. A precise right-hand from Paddy knocked down Frachley and he pounced on the ground & pound for the victory. His celebration saw him leap out of the cage and join the ecstasy in the crowd, summing up his personality!
A move to lightweight was always planned for Pimblett at some point of his career, losing the Cage Warriors featherweight title to Nad Narimani pushed that move. Only one victory at 155 pounds, saw him set for the vacant title against Soren Bak. Pimblett was on the losing end of a battle against Bak, with him not returning to the cage for 18 months.
Two dominating first-round showings over Decky Dalton and Davide Martinez saw a new fighter unleashed, with Pimblett looking in the best shape of his career, and declared he was ready for that call from the UFC after his win against Martinez.
Luigi Vendramini was and still is one of the biggest prospects in Brazilian MMA, and he took a big risk by taking a short notice fight for his UFC debut when only fighting 15 days before. He made his welterweight debut, where he was involved in a war with Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, whom he almost finished inside the first round. In the second, he was caught with a ruthless knee and Santos took advantage, hammering Vendramini with punches to finish the fight.
A knee injury kept Vendramini from entering the octagon again for two years, where he earned a Performance of the Night bonus on his return to lightweight at Fight Island 4. Numerous combinations from Vendramini, shown his tenacity to get the finish over Jessin Ayari and show everyone what he’s all about.
He was inches away from a second victory in the octagon at UFC 263 against Fares Ziam. In the second and third rounds, he nearly knocked out Ziam, as he piled on the pressure with his powerful striking. Vendramini came alive in the third round, dominating Ziam, but it wasn’t enough, with the Brazilian losing via majority decision. He may be 1-2 in the UFC, but he’s been involved in three quality, fast-paced fights. A tough test for Paddy’s debut at the Apex.
This could be a typical striker vs grappler matchup, but with Pimblett declaring to bjpenn.com “I hope Luigi tries to strike with me because I will knock him out… It’s nice people underrate my striking, everyone knows I’m a good grappler”. We could see a striking contest from the off, with Vendramini and Pimblett looking to end it quickly in the first.
Even though Pimblett is an extremely strong grappler, this isn’t ruling out Vendramini on the ground, who has four submissions to his name and he’s shown he can wrestle when it’s needed. The expectation is seeing Pimblett grind his opponent down till finds the takedown and executes his trademark finish, the rear-naked choke.
Pimblett edges Vendramini on first-round finishes with nine compared to the Italian’s eight. The final rounds aren’t a place both fighters like to enter, Vendramini has won all of nine of his wins by a finish. The last time Pimblett was victorious by going the distance was against UFC featherweight Julian Erosa. Pimblett won unanimously when he defended his belt in 2016.
The highly-anticipated showdown takes the first spot on the main card of UFC Vegas 36, with fireworks expected from the off, as the contest brings all sorts of unpredictability. Make sure to tune into the prelims at 6 pm (UK) time, and the main card starts at 9 pm (UK).
“The Baddy” vs “The Italian Stallion” Final Thoughts
This is an extremely tough debut for Pimblett in the UFC, Vendramini is dangerous on the feet and he can knock people out in this division. There’s been a huge difference in the attitude of Pimblett since joining the UFC. He looks determined, focused, and healthier than ever.
Even though these two love a first-round finish, this fight could easily go the distance and have the potential for a Fight of the Night after 15 minutes of fun. Pimblett wants the 50k bonus, Vendramini will too of course, but realistically, the POTN is on their mind.