Ilia Topuria Uninterested in Battling Paddy Pimblett or Sean O’Malley Currently

Ilia Topuria, who is set to face Alexander Volkanovski for the featherweight title at UFC 298, has expressed confidence in his victory and dismissed the idea of a grudge match with Paddy Pimblett, while also planning to challenge Conor McGregor and potentially move up to lightweight.

Ilia Topuria’s got a new perspective. He’s done with old beefs.

In a few weeks, he’s up against Alexander Volkanovski. It’s the main event of UFC 298, and it’s for the featherweight title. This is a big leap for Topuria. But he’s not sweating it. He reckons he’s the best in the world, in both featherweight and lightweight.

Topuria’s got a clear vision. “I’m winning this fight,” he declared on The MMA Hour. “It’s my destiny. Always has been. I was born a fighter. Born to be a UFC world champion. I know my worth, I know my skills. I can analyze my opponents, and I know I’m better than any of them. Even in the next weight class. I’m better than all of them. It’s just a matter of time before I prove them wrong. Over and over again.”

If he bags the belt, Topuria’s got plans. He’s after Conor McGregor next. Then maybe a shot at lightweight. This could lead to a showdown with Paddy Pimblett. Topuria and Pimblett have been at each other’s throats for years. They almost came to blows at a UFC 282 press conference. But Topuria’s over it. He’s not interested in fighting Pimblett in the octagon anymore.

“A lot of money? With Paddy?” Topuria scoffed when asked about that potential fight. “Who gives a damn about him? I approach every fight professionally. I view all my opponents professionally. But with him, it’s personal. If I see him in the supermarket, I’d smash him right there.

“He’s not even ranked. Did you see his last fight? It was a joke. The level he showed in that fight, that’s a joke. He looked like a beginner.”

Pimblett’s not the only one Topuria’s brushing off. UFC bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley has called out Topuria. He said if he defends his title against Chito Vera at UFC 299, and Topuria beats Volkanovski, they’re up next. But Topuria’s not convinced.

“Listen, he’s got a lot to prove in his weight class,” Topuria said. “He’s fighting the No. 6 guy in the ranking, who whooped him in the past. I don’t think he’s going to beat ‘Chito.’ I think ‘Chito’ is going to beat O’Malley. But even if he does, he has a lot to prove in his weight division.”

Whoever’s up next after Volkanovski, Topuria’s sure it’ll be a big fight. Once he’s got the UFC title, every fight’s a big deal.

“After I smash Alex, I’m the money fight,” Topuria said. “You’ll see. Everyone will start calling me out, because I’ll be the money fight. I won’t need any name, any weight division. I’ll be the money fight.”


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