Heading into their co-main event slot on the marquee at UFC 282, the electricity behind the matchup between Jared Gordon and Paddy Pimblett is vastly different between the two fighters. On one hand there’s the meteoric rise of Pimblett as a UFC superstar, potential future title challenger, and a fan-favorite among all fans worldwide. For Gordon, his story is real, it’s one that not many are familiar with, and one that once you sit down and listen to him tell it, it’s easy to see why he has the quiet, calm, and confident demeanor that he carries himself with.
Four years ago, Jared Gordon was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani and in a hour-long conversation he detailed his life story which included arrests, overdoses, losing it all, and how he recovered from it all and stabilized his career as a professional mixed martial artist fighting in the UFC.
Besides being world class martial artists competing on the biggest stage in the world, Gordon and Pimblett share an unfortunate tragedy, losing someone close to them from suicide. Following his win in July, Pimblett opened up about he learned the tragic news of his friend passing away from suicide and followed with a beautiful and memorable speech about how it’s okay for men to not be okay, it’s okay for men to ask for help, and men dealing with mental health is a real pandemic in the world.
He would go on the ESPN+ post-fight show and call for a fight against Jared Gordon, but Pimblett’s message also included the idea of spreading positivity, love, and open discussions regarding mental health, especially for men. As the fight came together, that same mindset was echoed by Gordon, who believed the two men could use their platform to raise awareness for mental health, be a voice for those who are struggling with mental health, addiction, or anything that’s holding them down, and all of that has not been talked about as much.
Sure, it’s obvious that the casual UFC fan will be shelling out money to either order UFC 282 or go out to watch it and Paddy Pimblett will be the main attraction. However, the fight against Jared Gordon isn’t a walk in the park, and their message of fighting for a greater purpose, is much more than a win or loss on their respective record.
It’s no secret that brash bravado is what gets all the attention, all the likes, and all the following for a fighter’s career, but all of those don’t complete a fighter’s journey or happiness. There’s no doubting the fame and fortune are what many, if not most, all fighters strive for. Some are in it to become world champion, some are in it for the fame and fortune, and some like to take all of that and combine with fighting for a bigger purpose, and Jared Gordon and Paddy Pimblett are two great examples of those type of fighters.
The two didn’t exchange insults or go on a tirade toward one another at the press conference this week, although there was a spirited conversation over claims of Pimblett rolling with and submitting Gordon a few years ago. In their first public appearance before they meet inside the Octagon on Saturday, there were no shades of a Conor McGregor like press conference from Pimblett, no rivalry trash talk like Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, simply just two men ready to fight, with no idea what will happen, but confidence they can each get the job done.
For once, it feels like a breath of fresh air and it shouldn’t be overlooked. The trash talking, the mental and verbal warfare, and sometimes chaos breaking out a press conference helps sells fights, there’s no doubting that. If Pimblett is victorious on Saturday night, his skyrocketing stock takes off to a whole new level and if Gordon were to win, well there’s a conversation to be had about how far he can go for his own future.
Regardless, on a UFC PPV card that doesn’t feature many top-tier “superstars” the UFC 282 card is one worth watching due to the high-level young rising talent on the card, the main event title fight, and the fact that the co-main event features a message stronger than anything they’ll do inside the Octagon.
Only Jared Gordon and Paddy Pimblett understand what makes them the fighters that they are, why they go to the gym each day, and why they are in this sport, but it’s never been just about themselves as individuals. This is a very rare case where two fighters will face each other, with no one knowing what the future holds for either of them, but on December 10, 2022, their fight and more importantly, their message outside the Octagon to the entire world, that could hold more memorable than any paycheck, world title, or popularity contest.
It’s a refreshing situation to see and no matter if you’re team Paddy The Baddy or Jared “Flash” Gordon and his underdog status is what you’re cheering for, this fight is way more than just a win and a loss. They’ve been through hell, so they fight like hell, and it’s all to help those around them and everyone around the world.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and is a former Associate Producer at Sirius XM’s Fight Nation.
With a special passion for interviewing and talking to the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike’s work across his multiple outlets.
Follow me on Twitter: @MP2310