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While Paddy Pimblett’s UFC victory over Jordan Leavitt was a significant milestone in his career, it was his post-fight speech that stole the show.
The rising star continued to make himself a beloved figure in the sport when he dedicated his victory to a friend who took his own life.
Paddy Pimblett took advantage of the interview, urging men to break the stigma of mental health.
“I woke up on Friday morning at 4am to a message that one of my friends back home killed himself,” said Pimblett.
“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 in tears after his speech as he walked past the media area.
Pimblett’s words resonated with viewers, as more men have come forward to seek help.
A mental health advisor revealed that a surge of men have taken his words to heart, reaching out and speaking up.
A facilitator from Andy’s Man Club, a mental health group based in West Yorkshire, England, revealed that Pimblett’s speech has been influential in helping more people attend 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 in the School of Social Work at Syracuse University, was moved by his speech and agreed with his sentiments.
“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 the culture of the specific idea of how men are “supposed” to act.
“I mean, think about the phrase ‘man up,’” she elaborated.
“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, either through medication or just talking about it, Marchese believes it should be viewed in the same light as seeking treatment for other illnesses.
“Would you not take diabetes medication? Would you not take insulin?”
“So to think that depression is looked at differently as if somehow you’re causing it or you’re weak because you can’t handle your problems is absurd.”
For a prominent figure like Paddy Pimblett in the world of UFC to encourage other men to open up was incredible for Tracey Marchese, and the reaction for 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.”
Opinions expressed by NY Weekly contributors are their own.