Ronnie O'Sullivan accepts Paddy Pimblett's sparring invitation after visiting Next Generation MMA

  • Tom Ward

Ronnie O’Sullivan has accepted Paddy Pimblett‘s challenge to share the cage with him in a sparring session.

The Baddy and The Rocket became buddies a few months ago when the snooker legend played an exhibition tournament in Liverpool in February and the two have since become close friends, with the pair showing their support for each other on several occasions in recent weeks.

O’Sullivan, 46, recently paid a visit to Pimblett’s gym at Next Generation MMA in New Islington.

The six-time Crucible champion was watching on from cageside as Pimblett submitted Rodrigo Vargas last month in the first round of their lightweight clash on the main card of UFC London at the O2 Arena on March 19.

Before the latter returned the favour as he was seen celebrating wildly after O’Sullivan beat Mark Williams at the Tour Championships in Llandudno on Wednesday.

But now it seems they could be about to take their friendship to the next level judging by O’Sullivan’s recent comments.

O’Sullivan told the Daily Express: “I am definitely going to try and do some sparring with him, when I next go to Liverpool he has told me I have got to get in the cage.

“And I am well up for that, it is all fitness.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND – APRIL 22: Ronnie O’Sullivan of England reacts during the Betfred World Snooker Championship Round Two match between Anthony McGill of Scotland and Ronnie O’Sullivan of England at Crucible Theatre on April 22, 2021 in Sheffield, England. A maximum of 50% of the venue capacity is allowed to open for spectators as part of a Government pilot event. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

“I went to Paddy’s last fight in London at the O2 with Damien Hirst, because he is a huge fan of UFC and knows the big bosses.

“We were sitting front row watching Paddy and Molly McCann too, and it was a great night.

“I have got to know Paddy over the last few weeks. He is a super, lovely guy and is going to be a real superstar – well, he is already really, but he is going to be mega, he has that X-Factor.

“What I like about UFC over maybe even the boxing is that you will never get an easy route. You have to fight whoever they say you are going to fight.

“In boxing there is a lot of politics involved, and fighters get to fight certain fighters and avoid certain fighters.

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“So the public can be frauded that some are better than they really are because they avoid the real, proper fights.

“But in UFC that doesn’t happen so much, they know that if they want to be the guvnor then they have got to fight each other. That’s the one thing I really like.

“It was just an amazing atmosphere at the O2, with 17,000 people and Paddy had the place rocking, he was the star of the night along with Molly.

“He just has an aura, everyone is talking about him.

“It was weird, my son was like ‘You went to the UFC, Paddy’s a legend’ and he loved it when I sent him a picture of us.

“We had breakfast together in Llandudno on the morning of my match with Mark Williams, all my friends from Liverpool brought him down.

“There are a few of the lads, and we had a couple of beers afterwards.” 

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