Pickett understands pressure to entertain
March, 26, 2013
By Matthew Freeman
Josh Hedges/Getty ImagesBrad Pickett believes he has the tools to dominate Mike Easton in their bout at UFC on Fuel TV 9.Dana White has often said that Brad "One Punch" Pickett is one of his favorite fighters to watch inside the Octagon due to his ferocious, face-forward style.
The British bantamweight is explosive, athletic and highly skilled with a legion of trilby adorn fans all eager to see the London-born battler engage in the kind of barnburners that have helped make his name. Yet Pickett, 34, knows that in the fight game a truly successful career balances on being able to parlay that excitement and wild reputation into bigger and bigger wins, forcing himself to the top of the 135-pound division and a shot at the title.
It's also about escaping the ever-present pink slip that is currently casting its shadow over the UFC in 2013. In the current climate, the UFC has been making some tough cuts to its roster of athletes -- those with back-to-back losses are often released but, conversely, those who put on a show are regularly given another chance.
"Is there pressure to perform?" Pickett asked, from his American Top Team camp in Florida. "Yes and no. I was shocked that Paul Sass and Terry Etim got cut but, for me, it is a winning business. You can't lose every fight and be exciting because in the end you will get cut. But on the other hand you can't just win fights by being a blanket because as soon as you do lose, you'll get cut. Knowing that Dana is a fan gives me a little sense of job security but, for myself, I'm a proud person. I'm not in the sport to make up the numbers. I'm here to be relevant. I want to stay in the top 10 and that means winning and winning big.
The reality of job security in the UFC is something that Pickett and his manager, Matt Walton, seem to easily comprehend.
"My view is that when you run a business, the only thing that supports the business is the bottom line," Walton said. "Without revenue even the most brilliant, exciting ideas fail. So for the UFC to continue to grow, it has to make money to be able to not only underpin its business, but to continue to push the boundaries and create further opportunities for itself and the people involved. Undoubtedly, you cannot water down the talent pool, however each and every sportsman or athlete involved needs to recognize that the greater entertainer they are, the more money can be made for the business."
Unsurprisingly, Pickett has always embodied that mix between being a competitor and an entertainer as his manager explains.
"Brad is a natural entertainer, so what you see with Brad is exactly how he is," Walton said. "He supports charities because he wants to, he trains and fights hard because he wants to, he stays faithful to his fiancee because he wants to, he signs autographs and spends time with fans because he wants to. Brad is a genuine guy in everything he does."
Recognizing that it's about paying back the fans and winning big imbues Pickett with an intriguing and exceptional mindset.
"My style tends to be exciting," Pickett said. "You can see that if I get a takedown, I'll look to land big shots and get super aggressive. Sometimes I'll end up getting the finish but if they end up getting back to their feet then OK. So be it. I'm comfortable on my feet and rather than just grinding a round out I do throw caution to the wind, but then you reap the rewards like a fight of the night bonus. The rewards are there in the UFC."
Pickett will take that attitude into the Octagon with him on April 6 in Stockholm against Mike Easton at UFC on Fuel TV 9 in a clash that could have serious consequences for both men.
Josh Hedges/Getty ImagesWith the recent job cuts in the UFC, Brad Pickett recognizes his need to win in exciting fashion.
"[Easton] likes to come forward in his fights and so do I," Pickett said. "So it's going to be about who can impose their will enough to put the other person on the back foot. It's a tricky one, even on the ground. He's a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu but it doesn't really bother me. I'm a black belt in MMA. The thing about Easton is he doesn't pull the trigger. He's got a lot of aggression but he doesn't do much with it. With me, I'll come forward and try to knock your head off."
The fight should prove to be an interesting battle between two aggressive and very different competitors. For Pickett, it's a fight that he clearly wants to dominate.
"I know where I am in the division and I know an impressive win will put me back up there," Pickett said. "You know my style and you know I'll be looking for the finish. I'm not going to predict anything but I think I have more tools than he does to finish the fight."