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After friend’s suicide, Paddy Pimblett implores men to speak up on mental health issues

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Paddy Pimblett’s UFC return didn’t come under great circumstances.

The rising star found out one of his friends had taken his own life just a day before his fight against Jordan Leavitt on the main card of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 208 in London. It was a tough situation for Pimblett (19-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC), which made it difficult to focus on his opponent.

“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.”

Despite the circumstances, Pimblett still managed to keep his unbeaten record in the UFC. He submitted Leavitt with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their lightweight contest.

Pimblett wants to use his platform to create mental health awareness for men and encourages men to speak up if they’re having issues.

“I just wish lads would talk more,” Pimblett said. “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.”

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Pimblett thinks the circumstances ultimately affected his performance. But even on a bad day, Pimblett thinks he proven he’s still a force in the division.

“Obviously, I know how good I am and on any given day,” Pimblett said. “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.”