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History has shown that Irish Cage Warriors champions can more than hold their own in the UFC.

Conor McGregor, of course, entered the UFC as a two-weight Cage Warriors world champion  in 2013 and had replicated that feat in his new home within three years, while Ian Machado Garry made his UFC debut in November 2021 having several months before hand claimed the European promotion’s welterweight strap — and is now likely one or two wins away from a shot at the sport’s most prestigious 170-pound title.

And you can prepare to add another name to that list: Paul ‘Big News’ Hughes.

The Irishman, like McGregor, is a former Cage Warriors featherweight champion and this month scored his 11th career win (11-1 overall) in a lightweight bout opposite the experienced Fabiano Silva, stopping the Brazilian veteran with a barrage of ground n’ pound elbows before the end of the first round in Dublin’s RDS.

Hughes, now a free agent, has been strongly linked to a move to the UFC and is considered by many to be among the best 155-pound fighters not currently signed to a major promotion.

But if and when that call comes, Hughes says that he has his eye on another former Cage Warriors alum whom he previously referred to on social media as an “absolute sh*tebag”: Paddy Pimblett.

“I’m not a huge one for beefs and all, I only do it when it’s legit, it’s not no fake stuff,” Hughes told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, via MMA Fighting.

“I just always think he has a stinking attitude, being around him in Cage Warriors days coming up. I’ve just never seen eye to eye with him, to be honest. I think what he’s doing, his fights in the UFC, are very very poor and I genuinely believe, as I said in the comment, I’d beat him with one hand and he’s a sh*tebag.

“It’s absolutely a fight I want down the line and would be open to.”

Pimblett, 29, scored his fifth UFC win in December when he outpointed Tony Ferguson across five rounds in what was El Cucuy’s seventh successive loss in the UFC cage. Speaking recently, Pimblett said that he wants to take on a ranked fighter in his next outing, meaning that Hughes will likely have to wait and add a couple of wins to his record before a fight the Liverpool man comes to fruition.