Brad Pickett has stepped on the scales, made weight, and completed all his PR duties… he is officially a UFC fighter. The fight is here and all he has to do is consummate the marriage.
Its been a long time coming, fraught with injuries and dashed hopes, but on Saturday night at UFC 138 at the LG Arena in Birmingham, England, “One Punch” gets to prove his worth against a fighter widely regarded as a future star: Renan Barao.
“I am in great shape, ready to go,” enthuses the Briton.
“My weight was good in the lead-up, I actually managed to put on more muscle and be a lot leaner than before, which means I have added a dense muscularity to my frame. In other fights I have been heavier beforehand and not as solid as I am now.”
We have heard the expression “I am in the best shape of my life” from many fighters over the years, but never from Pickett. And despite having to work around a nagging injury that he will have for the rest of his fight career, he truly believes that he has hit his peak in preparation for this encounter.
“When I went to America (for camp at American Top Team) I was still worried about my back, but the guys were awesome in the way they prepared me. The first couple of weeks I was being held back, getting my conditioning up, and the muscles ready, so when it finally came round to sparring time I was itching for it bad.
“It’s been a long, hard, but intelligent camp and I am really ready to go for this one.”
Co-headlining the only fight card for the UFC in the UK during 2011 is a big honor. Furthermore, his opponent has something to prove by maintaining his stellar record and picking up a win in Pickett’s backyard, but by contrast, Pickett is adopting more of a “fate is fate” kind of approach, leveling his success or lack thereof in the bout down to who is the better fighter.
“I am in a really good place mentally for this fight. I am at the stage of my life where things are what they are and if I just go out there and do what I am meant to do, and have trained hard to achieve, then I should win, regardless of the pressure of occasion or opponent.”
This newfound affinity with his fate can only be attributed to a maturing process the fighter has undergone over the years. It is a culmination of his sacrifice and dedication to the sport. He has faced tough times in his quest to become a UFC fighter having battled through financial pressures, injuries, tough losses, and a laundry list of opponents.
He even considered walking away from the sport at one point if he couldn’t make the headway he needed, but through hard work, dedication, and the support of others, he is now where he always envisioned.
“It has taken while to get here, but I am happy to be where I am. I needed to get into a good place mentally and physically. For the first time in a long time I have listened to my body. I am not 23 anymore. I am 33 and I needed to listen to what it was telling me.
“As soon as I started to do that, things started to fall into place. Having people around me like Mike Brown, Eric Luke, Rafael Diaz, and all the other guys at ATT has been key, but now it’s down to me to put all our hard work into play. If it is good enough I will win, if its not then I will have been beaten by the better person.”