British mixed martial arts legend Brad Pickett will enter the octagon for the last time this weekend in front of a packed O2 Arena. He will face Ecuadorian Chito Vera (8-3-1) in his swansong and is looking to finish his career in style.
Where it all started…
Mixed martial arts wasn’t Brad’s first choice of sport. “One Punch” enjoyed football in his early days and the first martial art he practiced was boxing. “The first martial art I took up was boxing at the age of 19” Pickett told MMA Plus.
“That was to keep fit in between my football practices. It took off after six months when they asked if I wanted to fight. Me being a very competitive person, I said yeah, I’ll give it a go.”
Pickett revealed that he boxed between the ages of 19 and 21 which is evident with the skills he showcases in the cage. However, his boxing came to an abrupt end. “I was still playing football alongside it and I suffered a really bad knee injury playing football which made me quit both for some time”.
The Londoner entered the sport later than most at the age of 26. Thankfully for Pickett, he had the fundamentals of boxing to aid a successful MMA career. Pickett made his professional MMA debut in November 2004 and has since gone on to capture the hearts of fans around the world.
Past, present and future for “One Punch”
Pickett has enjoyed many special moments in his career, perhaps most memorably being the first man to beat current pound-for-pound number one Demetrious Johnson with the only other man going on to beat him being Dominick Cruz. Brad however, shared his fondest memory with MMA Plus as something different.
“I’ve had a few memorable moments over my career but one of the biggest ones is when I knew I was getting to the stage where I could fight internationally. It was definitely on my bucket list to fight in Vegas, the fight capital of the world. Making my WEC debut, a big organization, fighting in Vegas and to also win by a rare submission with the Peruvian necktie was the icing on the cake”.
Despite this weekend being Pickett’s last time in the Octagon as a fighter, the American Top Team athlete has stated he still wants to stay in the sport.
“It’s hard to say what my typical day at training is going to be once I’ve retired. I definitely will stay training because I love what I do. I’ll also help other guys in getting ready for fights” Pickett revealed.
Options remain open for one of Britain’s most beloved fighters but he insists there is one priority. “I want to open up my own gym. I’m in the process of doing that now, looking for facilities. It’ll be in South London, close to where I live so keep your eyes open”.
Final Dance for one of London’s finest
This weekend gives Pickett the chance to end his career in style and bow out to his native London one last time. In an exclusive with MMAFighting.com Pickett revealed the desire to wear his trademark Trilby hat one last time, explaining “I’m definitely going to wear my Trilby hat and when I leave the octagon I’m going to leave my hat in the octagon just to say that I’m done”.
A victory won’t be routine for the Londoner with Vera having a solid record despite his fluctuating form. It is a very winnable fight for Pickett however and with the hunger the 38-year-old possesses we can expect to see him give 100%, win or lose. There is no doubting Pickett will get a hero’s welcome and farewell.
With both fighters having a very good submission game, the fight makes for an interesting one should it go to the floor. However, with Pickett evidently being the more powerful between the pair and undoubtedly the better boxer, we may see the fan favorite live up to his name one last time.
The fight will be on the main card this weekend with Jimi Manuwa vs Corey Anderson headlining the event. In what is sure to be another tearjerker of a fight in the English capital, Pickett will be hoping for the same result as his last outing at the O2 Arena where he claimed victory over Francisco Vera. Brad Pickett will have his “Last Dance” retirement party presented by Fighters Inc at All Bar One in the O2 Arena where fans will get a chance to celebrate the end of the MMA pioneer’s glittering career. To get your ticket for this event go to CombatandStrength.com.