Pickett entered the fight know it would be his last. Having first fought professionally in 2004, the 38-year-old Englishman has decided to leave his hat in the ring.
The first round was a solid effort by both fighters. Pickett got the upper hand early by scoring a double-leg takedown, but couldn’t keep Vera on the mat. When they returned to their feet, Pickett was the stronger puncher, landing several hard shots, but Vera was busier, using a wide array of kicks and knees to keep Pickett on his toes.
As the round wore on, Vera scored frequently with knees to the chin, but Pickett fought through anything that hit him, constantly moving forward and swinging for the finish with almost every punch.
Round one was close, but Pickett did some strong work in the second frame, scoring another double-leg takedown, this time keeping Vera there for a couple minutes. He worked Vera over with a solid ground-and-pound attack, driving punches to the body, and arcing heavy elbows to the head.
Pickett may have been able to finish out the round on the canvas, but when Vera started landing some questionable kicks to the back of his head, Pickett looked up at the referee. With the referee not stepping in, Pickett allowed Vera the opportunity to get the fight back to standing, where they traded until the end of the round.
Vera upped the frequency of his attacks in the final round, as Pickett began to miss with more of his punches.
Vera landed some outstanding kick and knee combinations for which Pickett had few answers, but the Londoner kept tracking forward, landing the occasional hard shot, but unable to string enough shots together to hurt Vera.
Pickett landed a solid left hook, straight right combination late in the round, but Vera answered with a thundering head kick that sent Pickett immediately to the canvas. Vera pounced, dropping down hammerfists until the referee stepped in to stop the fight with 1:10 remaining on the clock.
“London, London, slow down. Give Brad Pickett some respect, he is a (expletive) legend. I remember, I was 17 years old and I was watching him fight. Brad Pickett is a legend of the sport,” said Vera, taking it as an honor to have been able to fight someone of Pickett’s caliber.
“When I was in high school, he was beating today’s flyweight champion of the world.”
Being one of only two men to have ever defeated Demetrious Johnson is certainly a feather in Pickett’s hat, but he wanted to add one more feather to that hat before he left it in the Octagon.
“I’m so thankful for the UFC, giving me this platform to show my skills. The fans, man, I (expletive) love you,” said Pickett, obviously gutted by not being able to finish his career with a victory.
He shared one last hug with Vera before walking to the center of the Octagon, taking off his trademark trilby and laying it on the canvas before walking out of the cage for the final time.
(Photo courtesy of UFC)