Ronnie O'Sullivan accepts sparring challenge from UFC star Paddy Pimblett

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‘He’s told me I’ve got to get in the cage’: Ronnie O’Sullivan will swap the Crucible for the octagon as he ACCEPTS Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett’s sparring challenge

  • Ronnie O’Sullivan has agreed to spar UFC star Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett 
  • The enigmatic duo have developed an unlikely friendship in recent weeks 
  • O’Sullivan was in attendance as Pimblett wowed the crowd at UFC London
  • Pimblett was then present as O’Sullivan defeated Mark Williams on Thursday
  • O’Sullivan, 46, will become snooker’s world No 1 for a fifth time next week

Ronnie O’Sullivan will swap the Crucible for the octagon as he tries his luck in the cage against Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett after accepting the UFC star’s sparring challenge.  

The snooker legend, 46, was in attendance as Pimblett starred at UFC London earlier in March, as the Liverpool fighter earned his fourth-straight win by submitting Mexico’s Rodrigo Vargas in the first round. 

Pimblett swiftly returned the favour as he travelled over to North Wales to watch O’Sullivan in action, where ‘The Rocket’ set up a semi-final against Neil Robertson with victory over Mark Williams at the Tour Championship on Thursday. 

Ronnie O'Sullivan has incredibly agreed to spar UFC's latest star Paddy 'The Baddy' Pimblett

Ronnie O’Sullivan has incredibly agreed to spar UFC’s latest star Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett

O'Sullivan was in attendance as Pimblett choked out Rodrigo Vargas at UFC London

O’Sullivan was in attendance as Pimblett choked out Rodrigo Vargas at UFC London

O’Sullivan, who is set to overtake Mark Selby as snooker’s world No 1, has developed a perhaps unlikely friendship with the UFC star in recent weeks, with a session in the octagon now on the agenda.  

‘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,’ he said. ‘And I am well up for that, it is all fitness. 

‘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. 

‘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.’ 

The pair first met in Liverpool in February while O’Sullivan was playing at The Merseyside Masters at St George’s Hall, after which he described the UFC star as ‘a one off’.   

O'Sullivan and Pimblett have developed a friendship after meeting in Liverpool in February

O’Sullivan and Pimblett have developed a friendship after meeting in Liverpool in February

O’Sullivan is not just a fan of Pimblett, however, but UFC as a whole, insisting the sport isn’t as influenced by ‘politics’ as boxing. 

‘What I like about UFC over maybe even the boxing is that you will never get an easy route,’ he said. 

‘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,’ he added.

‘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.’

Meanwhile, Pimblett is open to fighting Ilia Topuria next, following their hotel scuffle prior to his most recent victory.

There was a brief confrontation during which Pimblett threw a bottle of hand sanitiser at the Georgian’s head before the pair were separated.

Topuria has repeatedly called Pimblett out on social media and while the Liverpool fighter is not fixed on anyone, he would be open to meeting Topuria if he’s the man the UFC decide is next.

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