Paddy Pimblett had learned of his friend's death hours before the fight and dedicated the victory to him.
UFC star Paddy Pimblett delivered a third straight win by beating Jordan Leavitt in the second round but chose to use the platform to raise awareness on suicide prevention. Pimblett, who's from Liverpool, England, chose to speak about mental health and the stigma surrounding men not opening up about their feelings. The 27-year-old received news that his friend had taken his life, just hours before he weighed in on Friday, and that was what motivated him to make the emotional plea on national television right after his win. “There’s a stigma in this world that men can’t talk—listen, if you’re a man, and you’ve got weight on your shoulders… please speak to someone, speak to anyone,” said Pimblett, reported New York Post. “Please, let’s get rid of this stigma, and men—start talking,” he added.
The rising lightweight submitted Leavitt with a rear-naked choke before taking to the mic to raise mental health awareness for men. “I had some horrible news the other day,” Pimblett told ESPN. “Five hours before weigh-in, I woke up and found out one of my mates had killed himself. It’s been a hard week, to be honest. It’s been a really hard week—not just with the fight and the weight cut. I’ve had so many other things.” He then dedicated his win to his friend. "So Ricky, lad, that’s for you,” he added.
Pimblett highlighted that most men tend to bottle up their emotions due to the stigma surrounding mental health and urged them to open up. “I just wish lads would talk more,” said Pimblett, before adding that opening up can save lives. “You know, women speak to each other all the time if you’ve got something. Lads don’t. They sit there and bottle it up, and they end up taking their own lives, and that’s something you can’t take back. Men just need to talk more. They just need to get it off their chest," he added. He also paid tribute to 4-year-old fan Baby Lee Hodgson, who tragically passed away from cancer last month.
Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann have arrived at The O2 📍— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 23, 2022
Both were wearing shirts to support Paddy's friend, Ricky, who committed suicide two days ago, and young fan, Lee, who they became friends with that died from leukemia. pic.twitter.com/aoxfD6C6Kd
Pimblett said the loss of his friend took a heavy toll on him and it showed in his performance as well. The UFC star said he still showed that he belongs here and can take anyone down. “Obviously, I know how good I am and on any given day,” said Pimblett. “I can beat anyone —anyone in the rankings. It doesn’t matter. I can beat anyone, even on a bad day like today, I still done it. I still got in there and dominated him. Well, I didn’t dominate him at the start, but still think I won the first round, and then I got the finish in the second.” After he secured the win, the crowds sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” the anthem of his favorite football club, Liverpool. Paddy Pimblett's victory was the second victory for the city after Liverpool’s Molly “Meatball” McCann beat Hannah Goldy.
As we reported last week, the U.S. government has launched a new mental health emergency hotline—988. The new Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is designed to connect people who are having thoughts of suicide or experiencing a mental health crisis with a trained mental health professional, as opposed to law enforcement officers. You can call or text the numbers 9-8-8 to access mental health support. "If you are willing to turn to someone in your moment of crisis, 988 will be there," said Xavier Becerra, the secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services. "988 won't be a busy signal, and 988 won't put you on hold. You will get help."
From someone who has lost 8 very good friends young & old over the past few years to death by suicide & almost lost another one during the week, fair play to Paddy Pimblett for talking about it & showing how important the subject is to talk. pic.twitter.com/CHix9PC4qP— Paddy Hartnett 🇮🇪 (@hartnett1977) July 23, 2022
If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide or require mental health support, call or text 988 to talk to a trained counselor.