Paddy Pimblett wants his 2023 experiences to be worth it at UFC 296 after spending most of the year recovering from surgery.
"The first couple of months were tough...I ended up getting surgery in March and couldn't walk for a couple of weeks." Pimblett said in his UFC 296 media day interview. "I had the boot on my leg till about mid-May, so that was about 12 weeks, but then my foot got infected. I ended up in the hospital for two nights. Had the infection spread any further, he would have had to redo the surgery to repair the artificial ligament."
Through all of the recovery this year, Pimblett found some positive energy after getting married to his girlfriend, Lauren Gregory. He details how tough the mental aspect of the recovery was before the wedding.
"When you haven't got a date or a fight to focus on, as a fighter, you don't know what to do with yourself," he said. "When I was sitting on the couch for two months, I kept thinking "what am I doing here?" You're just sitting here with your own thoughts, and it's not very nice."
Pimblett has a growing number of reasons to take his next fight seriously. After getting married earlier in the year, Pimblett recently went public with him and his wife expecting twins. The growth that comes with parenthood has been discussed by MMA fighters in great length, and it will be interesting to see which version of Pimblett we will see at UFC 296.
Now, as a married man and expecting father, Pimblett has been back in the gym and preparing for this fight since June.
Paddy Pimblett says fight with Tony Ferguson is 'lose-lose' situation
Pimblett would love to see Ferguson go out with a win, but he confirmed: "it won't be at my expense." Pimblett grew up watching Ferguson's run in the UFC lightweight division and now has to go to war with one of his idols.
"It's an honor to be able to fight Tony Ferguson, one of the best lightweights of all time. When I was a kid watching the UFC at 15 or 16 when I first started training, he was in the UFC then. It's like that cliche saying when your heroes become your rivals," he said.
There is something to be said about the passing of the torch in MMA and, with a big win over a UFC legend, Pimblett could be well on his way to solidifying his stock as a top UFC lightweight contender.