Brad Pickett is looking forward to UFC 138, as it will officially mark his debut as a UFC fighter, although he tempers his enthusiasm slightly as he has been in this position before.
“I was originally meant to be making my UFC debut back in May, but an injury forced me out of the fight,” exclaims the Briton, adding that he feels that he can’t get too excited because anything can happen. “Until I am standing in the Octagon, on the night, I won’t truly let my excitement out. I have to keep myself grounded as loads can happen between now and then. I could get injured or Renan Barão could.”
It’s no great secret that many fighters step into a bout with an injury, some disclose, some don’t, but if the injury is severe enough to impede training it could derail the fight.
UFC 138 came from nowhere for the top ten ranked bantamweight fighter, but it’s a welcome bout in any case.
“I was trying to get on the GSP card (UFC 137) at the Mandalay Bay, but there were no openings. I needed to fight and then they came up with UFC 138 a week later, fighting in England, so it works well for me.”
One thing that is certain is that Pickett, although very keen to be back in the mix again following injury, is both disappointed not to have had his crack at former WEC champion Miguel Torres and relieved that he has overcome injury enough to be able to get back into a fight camp again.
“I was training in May at American Top Team and my back started to hurt during a session. I tried to carry on through it, but eventually decided to sit a round out. It got worse and the following day I got it checked out. An MRI later and I found out I had a herniated disk in my spine. I tried to train through it and looked into an epidural, but eventually ATT pulled me from fight.”
Most fighters, come the actual bout, are nursing an injury of sorts, be it a tendon strain, muscle pull, severe bruising, or even something as serious as a fracture in their hand, but unless it’s really serious, they tend to fight through the pain and rely on the adrenaline dump of a fight in front of thousands of people.
Pickett knows that a herniated disk is something he will likely have to fight around for the remainder of his career and that hopefully, come retirement time, medical science will be advanced enough to be able to rectify the issue without having any long-term effects. Fusing may be an option, but it’s something he is able to work around now having undergone therapy.
“Loads of fighters have this injury. When it first happens it’s agony, but you can learn to work around it; it’s a common problem in the sport.”
Moving on to the focus of his training for UFC 138, Pickett is remarkably relaxed about the Brazilian’s fearsome reputation and 26-fight win streak.
“All respect to Barão, but I was more excited for the Torres fight. With Barao, everyone is raving about him and it’s my job to find out if he is the real deal, whereas we knew that as fact with Torres. It was the same situation back when I fought Demetrious Johnson and I came out on top of that encounter.
“I know that he hasn’t fought anybody in the top ten yet and I am his first at this level so it’s hard to measure exactly how good he is.”
With a year on the sidelines and a point to prove against an up-and-coming Brazilian charger, Pickett is firmly focused on the task at hand: make a statement in front of his countrymen by finishing a top prospect and prove to the world that if you want to see a fast-paced fight, full of technique and gas, watch the lighter guys.
“When the door shuts, I will know I am finally a UFC fighter and it will feel brilliant to do it in the U.K. It’s not a dream fulfilled until that happens. At the moment, I have more fans in the U.S. than in the U.K., as I have spent the last couple of years fighting abroad, so I am looking forward to making some new ones on the night.”