A Liverpool crowd who were thunderous and electric throughout the night were silenced. Silenced by one man; Nad Narimani, the new Cage Warriors Featherweight Champion. The new man to beat in the featherweight division elevated his golden accolade in jubilation to roaring boos and a rain of projectiles from a furious crowd, but that didn’t bother the fighter from Bristol who, after a commanding performance, knew that he thoroughly deserved the title that he was hoisting up.
Nad Narimani beat adored Scouser Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett to claim the Cage Warriors Featherweight title at CW82, a fight that main-evented a card taking place in Paddy’s own back garden. The predominantly local crowd at the Echo Arena in Liverpool left the building feeling worlds away from what new champion Nad was feeling who was on top of the world on being able to capture the belt and has certainly opened a golden gate that leads to the UFC.
Speaking exclusively to the very few press left so long after the event, Narimani answered some questions about a terrific night for him.
“There was a lot of hype around Paddy before the fight, was it as tough as you thought it would be?”
“He’s a tough kid, definitely. 22 years old and he’s still young in the sport, I mean he’s done a lot and you’ve got to take your hat off to him there’s not many 22 year olds doing what he’s done already. He was tough; took a lot of shots, I knew I couldn’t rush in because he shoots in for that leg and he grapples well. He’s a strong kid but, I don’t know, I just feel like I work with so many good guys that I felt everything and that’s the way it planned out.”
“Paddy can be hard for anybody on the ground and you practically checkmated him tonight. Had you been training hard for that?”
“Training with this guy 24/7; Pedro Bessa, he’s one of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coaches in the country and I’m lucky enough to have him as a training partner as well as a coach. I spar with him most days and do a lot of conditioning together. I train with Ronnie Mann who’s a black belt under Braulio [Estima], Paul Reed, all these guys they’re high level grapplers so nothing really phased me. I’d seen it all and had to react to it all before, that’s how it went down.”
Nad’s expert wrestling and Jiu Jitsu on the night managed to completely suppress someone who is renowned for his expert, and sometimes unstoppable, grappling skills. Apart from a couple crowd transitions from Pimblett, which received roars from the fans, the 29 year old from Bristol controlled the fight on the ground and eventually won an evident unanimous decision after five rounds, striking another tally in Narimani’s win column to make his record 10-2.
Paddy Pimblett seemed to be on the verge of making the huge jump to the UFC for almost a year now and many expected this event in his hometown to be his swansong in Cage Warriors before he left to fight in the world’s biggest MMA promotion. However, Narimani may have taken the huge amount of hype around “The Baddy” as well as his belt which would clearly open some doors to greater things.
“This title has a history of taking people to the UFC, is that the goal for you?”
“Of course. I love Cage Warriors and they’re a great organisation but, you know, the UFC’s the ultimate goal and that’s where I’m going to be going.”
“You lost a closely fought fight for this title before, did you ever feel that your opportunity had slipped though your fingers and you wouldn’t get another chance?”
“In life you keep plugging away and you get results. You can give up and you won’t get to where you want to go or you can carry on going and you can get there and that’s what I’ve done. I’ve carried on working, I’ve carried on winning, I’ve carried on training and here we are today. Without failure there is no success.”
“8,000 people in tonight’s arena and you were clearly not their favourite. Did that affect you at all walking into an arena like that?”
“I knew that was never going to affect me. My mindset is too strong for a crowd to affect me. I’ve got two other people in there; the referee and my opponent and that’s all I’m thinking about, I’m not worried about the 8,000 people on the outside cheering the name because that makes no difference to the outcome. If you let the crowd affect you then I don’t think you’re in the right game.”
“Finally, what are your thoughts on the volatile crowd at the end throwing bottles and burgers at the cage?”
“I mean it is what it is mate. If people want to get emotional about a fight, we just had a twenty five minute fight what’s throwing some f****** beer and s*** going to do I mean it’s not that big. I don’t know it’s just stupid innit. We’re here to fight and we fought, that’s it, the result was the result. Accept it.”
I doubt a disheartened and angry crowd could drag Nad down from the unbelievable high he is on, and looking back I’m sure the packed Liverpool crowd will agree that Narimani was clearly the deserved winner. His expert ground work and grappling showcased on Pimblett has the signs of someone who has an extremely bright future in MMA, possibly one that leads him to the UFC.
Nad Narimani. Remember the name. It could be a name that is added added to the long list of fighters who have used Cage Warriors as a stepping stone to reach the very top. And you can see from that eventful night at the Echo, Nad Narimani has what it takes to make it to the very top.