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Bow fighter will win deal with mega company if he beats Ivan Menjivar

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THE East End of London has a proud fighting history which dates back to the 18th century and is still alive today in the atmospheric confines of York Hall, Bethnal Green.

Tonight (Thursday) one of the area’s sons will tape his hands and step out in front of thousands of fans in America and attempt to move up the bantamweight rankings.

However, Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett’s gloves will only weight four ounces each and he’ll be stepping into a cage rather than a ring.

The 32-year-old mixed martial artist from Bow takes on experienced Canadian Ivan Menjivar on the undercard of show, promoted by World Extreme Cagefighting, and the prize on offer for both men could not be greater.

The winner of the bout will bag a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championships, the sport’s largest promoter, who, until now, had not put on fights in Pickett’s 135lb division.

Other than the added prestige, fighters making making the move to the UFC will receive larger paydays, bigger bonuses and more lucrative sponsorship deals.

With the company planning events in Ireland and Scotland early next year, for Pickett - whose professional record is 19-5, there is also the opportunity to fight in front of his home supporters on the sport’s biggest stage.

“That’s a thing I’m excited about,” he said. “At the moment, WEC is in America and there’s no future of coming over to England. They always said they may have been, but there was nothing concrete.

“Now the UFC is solid and concrete in the UK, so if I’m part of that I’d love to fight in England and let a lot of my UK fans, friends and family be able to watch me. Not a lot can afford to fly out to Vegas every time I fight.”

He added: “I’m not there yet so I can’t get carried away. Anything can happen from now to then.

“Until I’m actually in there with the cage door shut behind me and the logo on my gloves, I’m not technically fighting in the UFC.”

Pickett already has fans in the organisation though, with Marshall Zelaznik, presdient of the UFC’s UK operations, chief among them.

“I’ve seen him fight and I was amazed,” he said recently. “From talking to (matchmaker) Joe Silva, he really does hold Brad in high regard as one of the most talented fighters out there.”

The Londoner last fought in August when he lost a close decision to Scott Jorgensen, who is now fighting for the World bantamweight title.

Rather than become distracted by what may be around the corner, Pickett is concentrating on harnessing the skills which put him in this position.

“At the end of the day, it’s a winning business and I just lost my last fight. I know my last fight was a close one and it was a good fight, but you need to win fights.”

If he can, fight fans in the East End will be more familiar with him before too long.

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