MMA: Bow’s Brad Pickett exits UFC with his head held high, even if final fight ended in defeat to Marlon Vera of Ecuador
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‘One Punch’ may have been beaten by ‘Chito’, but fight was a true Pickett bout
For 13 minutes and 47 seconds at the O2 Arena on Saturday, it looked like Bow’s Brad Pickett would end his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career on a high.
The 38-year-old was up on two of the three judges’ scorecards in his farewell bout against Ecuador’s Marlon Vera on the UFC Fight Night 107 bill in London.
But with less than 80 seconds remaining in his fighting career, Pickett was rocked by a vicious kick to the head from Vera.
The British bantamweight went crashing to the canvas, leaving referee Grant Waterman with little option but to bring the fight to a halt.
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It was a sad end to a brilliant 12-and-half-year career for Pickett, but the UFC legend says he has no regrets about the way he bowed out.
“It’s me, it’s my fighting style; I live by the sword and die by the sword and I’m fighting for the fans,” said an emotional Pickett after the bout.
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“I didn’t have trouble taking him down, so I could have done that and laid on him, make it boring.
“Me, I wanted it to be a typical ‘Brad Pickett fight’ and a typical Brad Pickett fight would have seen me get up from that and carry on fighting. Unfortunately my age didn’t let me get up as quick as I could.”
Though it ultimately ended in defeat, Pickett made a tremendous start to the bout which belied a fight week unlike any other in his MMA career.
The veteran had been at the centre of much attention all week long, appearing on television, while numerous column inches were dedicated to him.
On Friday, Pickett also received his own special copy of the Advertiser, which contained all of his career highlights.
And the 38-year-old admits the build-up for the fight was unlike any other he had been through in his career.
“The whole week had been crazy emotional. Whatever I’d experienced throughout my career, the past week was tenfold,” he added.
“The support I got from the press, the fans and the staff was mind-blowing. I’m forever grateful to the UFC and this sport for giving me a platform.
“When I first started out, I fought on Portsmouth Pier and I didn’t even get paid, I got a free table for my friends to watch the fight.
“It’s been an absolute rollercoaster for me and my fans, it’s not been easy being a Pickett supporter!”
Though he is stepping away from the octagon, Pickett is not retiring from the sport completely.
The bantamweight has already been coaching youngsters in the area, and now he is retired from action, he says he hopes to devote more time to that.
And in his final press conference, he was keen to stress the values of MMA as a sport in general.
“I played many sports growing up, but for me MMA is the best sport if you want to challenge yourself,” he said.
“I’ve been in team sports where you can be the best player on the pitch and lose, or the worst player and win.
“In this sport, it’s all down to you which is the biggest challenge, but I’ve loved it.”
• Poplar’s Darren Stewart was also in action in London, but lost on a unanimous decision to Brazil’s Francimar Barroso.
“I could hear my corner, but I know I wasn’t doing what they were telling me to do,” said Stewart. “It was a very bad night for me.”