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01st Apr 2017

Liverpool hype train Paddy Pimblett derails as he drops Cage Warriors title on home soil

And new...

Darragh Murphy

That call from the UFC may not be coming quite as soon as was expected.

The most recognisable fighter on the Cage Warriors roster has succumbed to a shock defeat as Liverpool sensation Paddy Pimblett saw his featherweight title wrested away on the banks of the Mersey on Saturday night.

Pimblett (13-2) was comprehensively beaten by challenger Nad Narimani (10-2) at Liverpool’s Echo Arena and, all of a sudden, a superstar in the making has had to take a few steps backwards.

In the second defence of his Cage Warriors featherweight title, Pimblett was expected to put on one final audition for the UFC before they came calling but it was Narimani who dominated proceedings.

The tone was set early on as Narimani made the centre of the cage his own and pushed the defending champion back on his heels.

A switch kick from Pimblett brought the crowd to its feet but the challenger responded with a flush right hand that prompted ‘The Baddy’ to dive on a single leg.

Several shots from Narimani landed to the back of Pimblett’s head, earning a warning from referee Marc Goddard.

Narimani spun to the back, ended up in Pimblett’s half-guard but any position is a dangerous one on the mat when it comes to the crowd favourite, who went in desperate pursuit of a kimura only to run out of time, with the first frame going to Narimani.

Forward pressure continued from Narimani and Pimblett struggled to find his rhythm before Narimani shot on a takedown midway through the second round.

A wild flurry from both men elicited a deafening roar from the crowd and Pimblett turned his output up a gear only to be taken down by his opponent. However Pimblett reversed position and ended the second stanza in top position, although it wasn’t enough to earn him the nod on the scorecards.

Seemingly more focused on entertaining than winning, Pimblett attempted a spinning back elbow from a bizarre angle and telegraphed it enough to allow Narimani to defend.

The blonde locks of the Scouser bounced in unison under the weight of a heavy Narimani right hand however persistence paid off for Pimblett in his lengthy search for a single leg and he eventually took the back of Narimani with a minute remaining but the clock continued to work against ‘The Baddy’ in what was a closer round.

The biggest positive for Pimblett, apart from his strong finishes to rounds he had already lost, was the reliability of his chin as he ate several right straights from Narimani, who was coming out on top in every exchange.

Surely aware that a stoppage was his only way to retain his strap, Pimblett took his time working to get the bout to the ground in the fourth but almost found himself victim to a Narimani kimura.

The lack of urgency from the man most in the crowd had paid to see was bizarre as the defending champion seemed content with his work, despite the fact that almost everyone watching had Pimblett down on the scorecards.

With both men exhausted, there was not as much drama in the final round as one might have expected, as Narimani was happy to defend his insurmountable lead and Pimblett failed to chase the finish with the haste required.

Pimblett actually seemed to believe he had done enough to get his hand raised but none of the three judges in charge agreed as a unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 50-45) was awarded to Narimani, who more than deserved his new piece of gold.

“The guy’s tough, you’ve got to take your hat off to him,” Narimani said of Pimblett after the fight, as water bottles and empty plastic glasses shamefully sailed into the cage. “He’s 22 years old! When I was his age I wasn’t doing this shit and he’s in here and he’s the world champion.

“But I came in here and I took it off him.

“I’ll take anyone. I’ll fight anyone. I don’t look at people and say ‘No, I don’t want to fight him.’

“I’m not here to get famous or anything like that. I’m here to fight the best people and prove that I’m the best. And I think I proved that tonight but it doesn’t look like these fans are liking it.”