Paddy Pimblett’s Fundamental Fighting Mistakes
Paddy Pimblett has taken the MMA world by storm, reeling off 4 straight octagon victories (like it or not) and becoming a near-enough household name in the process.
Whilst being an exciting, must-watch fighter for anybody, Pimblett has some crucial flaws in his style that could see him punished sooner or later. As Pimblett makes a slow rise through the Lightweight rankings, we’ve been privy to some of these flaws, and nearly saw Pimblett put out to pasture in his UFC debut because of them.
I’m going to guide you through some of these issues, and how they’ve affected Paddy, and could have a severe impact on his future in the sport if he keeps them up. Also to clarify, this article isn’t designed to be disparaging to Pimblett, it’s just observation.
Lacking Boxing Defense
Paddy is a magnet for counter left hooks
If you haven’t noticed already from his fights with Luigi Vendramini and Jared Gordon, Paddy gets hit A LOT with check left hooks. This is because of several fundamental issues with Paddy’s striking defense:
- His hands don’t come back to his face after throwing a shot
- His hands drop when throwing punches or kicks
- His offense is uneducated
- Paddy lunges with his punches, putting him extremely out of position
- Paddy doesn’t tuck his chin, instead he lifts his chin when attacking
Hands not coming back to the face
This is an amateur mistake, and common with a lot of martial arts beginners. The movement most natural to a lot of people is to throw a punch and bring their elbow back to their body as the hand follows suit. The issue here is that you’re dropping your guard and an effective counter puncher can slip, parry, or block your punch and catch your exposed chin (or body) with a strong hook or well placed straight.
The conundrum in MMA is that the hands needs to be in a viable position to defend takedowns. This is why MMA fighters transitioning to boxing (i.e., Woodley vs Paul) seem to look lackluster compared to their boxing-purist opponents.
Still, this can be mitigated by maintaining good positioning and balance, which keeps your hips strong for the purpose of shrugging off takedown attempts. What Paddy does wrong is that he simultaneously drops his guard whilst also putting himself greatly out of position.
Throwing himself out of position
I could keep providing examples of exchanges like this in his fights, but we’d be here all day. If unranked fighters like Vendramini and Gordon can crack Pimblett like this, then imagine what Drew Dober, Terrance McKinney, or Guram Kutateladze could do? He’s going to get put out if he doesn’t fix these glaring holes in his style.
Who’s Next For Paddy Pimblett After UFC 282?
According to Fightmatrix, Paddy Pimblett is ranked #21 in the active UFC lightweight rankings. If he wants to fight up in these rankings, he’s looking at these opponents:
If he were to fight down, he’d be looking at these opponents:
If I were to guess, I’d say someone along the lines of Mark O. Madsen would be the next best matchup. Madsen is a pressure wrestler without much of a striking background. Since Madsen’s last loss was against #14 Grant Dawson, a victory for Pimblett would mean an easy shot at the top 15.
Otherwise, I can see a lot of potential opponents that, on paper, would be very unfavourable matchups. Fighters like Bobby Green, Jalin Turner, and Joel Álvarez seem lightyears ahead on the feet, and can hold their own on the ground.
It’s a tough spot for Pimblett, caught between fighting up in the rankings and potentially getting smashed, or cherry picking opponents and waning in popularity with the fans.
Is Paddy Pimblett the next big thing?
Love him or hate him, the exposure that Pimblett is bringing to our sport is fantastic. The more eyes on MMA, the higher the odds of it going more mainstream. Being an advocate for mental health, combatting body shaming, and generally being an open book (podcasts aside), Pimblett is MMA a good reputation, and swaying the public consensus of it being just another blood sport.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to discuss everything in the comment section below.
Mathew is a UK-based combat sports journalist. He currently works for MMA Knockout, part of the Sports Illustrated FanNation network. The Fight Fanatic is Mathew’s one-man operation. His past bylines include Heavy on UFC, Sportskeeda, and MMA UK.
Contact Mathew via Twitter or through [email protected]