While Paddy Pimblett’s UFC win over Jordan Leavitt was a career milestone, it was his post-fight speech that stole the show.
The rising star was on a meteoric rise to becoming a popular figure in the sport when he dedicated his victory to a friend who took his own life, growing his fanbase even more.
Paddy Pimblett used the interview to urge men to break the mental health stigma.
“I woke up on Friday morning at 4am to a message that one of my friends back home killed himself,” Pimblett said.
“This was five hours before my weigh-in. So, Ricky lad, that’s for you.”
“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, and you think the only way you can solve it is by killing yourself, please speak to someone. Speak to anyone!”
“I know I’d rather have me mate cry on my shoulder than go to his funeral next week.”
“So please, let’s get rid of this stigma. And men, start talking!”
Pimblett was seen walking into the media area in tears after his speech.
Pimblett’s words resonated with viewers as more and more men came forward asking for help.
A mental health counselor has revealed a wave of men took his words to heart, reached out and spoke out.
A moderator from Andy’s Man Club, a mental health group based in West Yorkshire, England, revealed that Pimblett’s speech helped more people to participate for the first time.
“Across both of the Leeds and Castleford groups we have 69 (10 new) and 39 (9 new) who attended respectively,” said Andy Wilson.
“It just shows how much the groups are needed and how more and more men are talking if they’re struggling.”
“The interview with Paddy Pimblett following his fight at the weekend can only have helped raise awareness on how important it is for people to open up and talk if they’re struggling with anything, and a reminder once again that it’s okay to talk.”
Experts weigh in
Tracey Marchese, a professor at Syracuse University’s School of Social Work, was moved by his speech and agrees with him.
“Depression and suicide are some of the leading causes of death in men,” she revealed.
“And even the people who complete suicide, the rate is about four times higher in men than it is in women.”
Marchese attributes the number to culture’s specific idea of how men are “supposed” to act.
“I mean, think about the phrase ‘man up,” he explained.
“Men are essentially, and I don’t want to stereotype and all men are treated this way, but if we look at the big picture in society, this is what we see.”
““It’s a weakness to show that you have signs of mental illness or that you’re not coping well.”
When it comes to seeking help, whether through medication or simply by talking about it, Marchese believes this should be seen in the same light as seeking cures for other diseases.
“Would you not take diabetes medication? Would you not take insulin?”
“So to think that depression is seen differently as if you somehow caused it or that you are weak because you can’t handle your problems is absurd.”
For a prominent figure like Paddy Pimblett in the UFC world, Tracey Marchese was moved by his encouragement of other men to open up, and the response to his words was even better.
“I heard the crowd cheering for him when he said it,” she said. “That’s the other piece that was so important.”
“It’s not that he was just saying it and up there doing it. He was in a crowd of people, and the things he was talking about, it wasn’t just about him. It was about what he was saying.”