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Wallop! Bow boy Brad wows British UFC fans

PUBLISHED: 09:24 09 March 2016 | UPDATED: 09:24 09 March 2016

A general view of the O2 Arena during the UFC Fight Night (pic: Adam Davy/Empics)

A general view of the O2 Arena during the UFC Fight Night (pic: Adam Davy/Empics)

EMPICS Sport

Pickett picks up a win at O2 Arena

UFC Fight Night: Silva vs Bisping made for a dramatic introduction into the world of Mixed Martial Arts and I was fortunate enough to not only see one of the sport’s all-time greats, but also cheer on a fellow East Londoner.

Having never been inside the O2 Arena before, a record attendance of more than 16,000 made the space feel absolutely packed to the rafters with hungry fight fans.

English fighters obviously brought the biggest cheers, but it was great to see decent support for all, in the most multi-cultural city in the world. And a very loud Finnish contingent, cheering on Makwan Amirkhani, came close to beating the St George costumes.

With two wins and two losses for British fighters, it fell to Brad Pickett to tip the scales and the boy from Bow delivered.

The only Londoner competing in the world’s biggest MMA promotion was pitted against Francisco ‘Cisco’ Rivera, a fighter capable of devastating blows. And with 15 knockouts between them, I knew my first ever UFC show was going to be a memorable one.

In true Cockney fashion, ‘One Punch’ Pickett walked the Lambeth Walk to the octagon, singing along to ‘Wallop’ by Chas & Dave, wearing his trademark trilby hat.

The fight got off to a cautious start and when I heard Pickett felt he was ‘fighting for his job’ after an unfortunate string of losses, you could see why he was a little apprehensive to make any risky moves.

Cisco was strong to counter and towards the end of the first and second rounds the pair traded a flurry of desperate blows which left no man seemingly on top.

An unfortunate groin shot in the second round left Pickett pacing around the ring, while Cisco recovered, and in the end it needed a decisive takedown by Pickett near the end of the third round for him to assume a position on top of his rival until the bell sounded to secure the win.

After raising his hand, emotions were clearly running high as the bloodied and bruised brawler held back the tears and said: “Walking out there was great, but walking back was better. I don’t do this just to make up the numbers, I want to be someone within the sport.

“If I felt I couldn’t compete, not just compete at the level, but win at this level, then I would hang my gloves up so I’m happy I got the win. I had a lot of pressure going into this fight and no matter who I was facing – it could’ve been the number one in the world or some guy on the street – I had a lot of inner demons that I was fighting, and I am so happy with the win.”

At 37, he may be one of the older fighters around, but Pickett only began fighting at the age of 26 and feels his body has not had the same level of punishment. I hope it means significantly more fights to come. Still, it will be a sad day when he does finally decide to hang up his trilby hat.

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