The UFC announced Brad “One Punch” Pickett will get the chance to bid a fond farewell to MMA in his hometown as the promotion returns to London’s O2 Arena on March 18th.
Pickett’s final bow will be against Mexican bantamweight Henry Briones. With a 16-6 record, Briones has had mixed fortunes in his brief UFC tenure—winning his debut fight in the promotion against Guido Cannetti before losing a unanimous decision to the new king at 135lb, Cody Garbrandt. Briones’ last contest was a losing effort against Douglas Silva de Andradel; abruptly ended once he was on the receiving end of a spinning back fist which promptly forced an end to proceedings.
This announcement comes less than a month removed from Pickett playing a part in MMA pioneer Urijah Faber’s grand hometown farewell in Sacramento, California. Pickett lost a unanimous decision against Faber and was on the receiving end of a vicious beating from his American counterpart for the majority of the 15-minute fight. As ever, Pickett displayed some ridiculous, unnatural heart and determination to last the course.
Going 1-5 in his last six fights since eking out a decision win over Seery on his flyweight debut back in early 2014, Pickett’s recent form may suggest the sport has passed him by as he nears his forties as a 38-year-old man. But, One Punch remains a fan favorite thanks to his all-action style and has been a leading figure in the UK MMA scene during the sport’s infancy in the region. The fact this London event boasts seven UK-based athletes on its incomplete fight card is testament to the sport’s British torchbearers, such as Pickett, from years past and their roles in helping build the sport in the UK.
On the surface, it would appear Pickett has had a rough time of it in the UFC of late. Though, his mixed fortunes in the UFC’s bantamweight division is largely due to his attitude to fighting, taking on all comers, of which includes some of the division’s most dangerous. The Londoner’s approach is very much the epitome of “anytime, anywhere.” No wonder why UFC president Dana White has said the generally unheralded Pickett was among his favorite fighters to watch on multiple occasions.
During his UFC run, One Punch has beaten tough opponents in Francisco Rivera, Yves Jabouin, Damacio Page, Mike Easton and Neil Seery. Pickett’s UFC debut saw him face future champion Renan Barao in a back-and-forth fight which earned Fight of the Night honours. Since then, he has posted losses to Eddie Wineland, UFC bantamweight interim title challenger Michael McDonald, former UFC flyweight title challenger Ian McCall, Brazilian phenom Thomas Almeida in another back-and-forth fight, as well as submission specialist Iuri Alcantara in addition to the Faber loss.
Pickett’s UFC record may look underwhelming on paper, standing at just 5-8, but Pickett has been competitive in almost every bout he’s ever been a part of—the recent outing against an uber-motivated Faber an anomaly. Also, it’s worth remembering Pickett is one of two men to have beaten the consensus world pound-for-pound king Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson back in their WEC days not so long ago.
The former Cage Rage and Ultimate Challenge MMA featherweight champion may have his work cut out against Briones in his celebrated swansong to be broadcast on streaming service UFC Fight Pass. But, both fighters’ penchant for in-cage violence, exemplified by 15 knockout wins between the pair, will provide an apt curtain call to a career which deserves significant recognition from those involved in the sport.
As Pickett makes his walk to the Octagon to the amusing strains of Chas & Dave—trilby hat, braces and a newspaper in tow—for the last time, it will most certainly be an emotional night for both One Punch and his adoring London crowd.
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