It is tough to have all the chips fall in your favor if you choose a career as an MMA fighter. Losing is an intrinsic part that almost every mixed martial artist has to go through.
Brad Pickett knows this. He has had highs and lows throughout his incredible 13-year career. After suffering back to back losses, however, he just wanted one more win to cap the end to such a long and storied ride.
The UFC set it up perfectly. Gave him a send-off fight in his hometown, in front of his people. After his original opponent, Henry Briones pulled out on fight week, they found him a quick replacement, Marlon Vera. Vera missed weight, but the fight went on. Nothing seemed to be an obstruction for Pickett to lose this opportunity.
The promotion, usually sticklers for their strict uniform policy, even let Pickett walk out to the cage in a hybrid garb that combined his Reebok kit with the hat, suspenders, and newspaper he used to walk out with in his heyday.
The fight was his for two and a half rounds. All three judges had Pickett ahead in the fight after two, but their scores ultimately didn’t matter. Vera pulled out a big head kick that dropped Pickett late in the third. Several strikes later, the fight was stopped.
You could almost hear the crowd going through all five stages of grief between the time the kick landed and the time both men left the octagon.
But all was not spoiled. The emotional post-fight interviews made up for the undesired fairy tale ending.
Vera slowly won the crowd over with an impassioned speech on what it meant to fight Brad Pickett.
“Brad Pickett is a f*cking legend of the sport. I remember I was 17 years-old watching this guy fighting, and today I have the honor of fighting him so I can provide for my family.”
After going over the finishing sequence and thanking his team and the promotion for a great opportunity, he once again addressed the crowd.
“Hey London, thank you very much, guys. You’re an amazing crowd. Thank you London, you guys rock.”
Dan Hardy then allowed Pickett to address the crowd while complimenting him for going out on his shield.
“I’m so thankful for the UFC giving me this platform to show my skills. And all the fans, I f*cking love you,” Pickett said to a swell of cheers. “To be honest, tonight sums up for me. I believe I was winning the fight clearly and then I just got caught. To be honest, I would’ve rather gone out stiff and dead than to get stopped. I would have carried on fighting, I was OK. But the referee has a job to do, you know, but I left it all there tonight. You guys have meant the world to me.”
He went on to thank his family, his coaches and his fans. Leaving his trilby hat, rather than his gloves, in the middle of the cage before exiting.
— Tony Fagnano (@BigToneMMA) March 18, 2017