On September 3, the UFC will roll into Hamburg, Germany’s Barclaycard Arena. On that night, Andre Arlovski and Josh Barnett will be the headliners of a UFC Fight Night event. But also on that card is a well-traveled veteran of 36 professional bouts. That man is Brad “One Punch” Pickett.
A Conversation with Brad Pickett
Recently I had the fortunate opportunity to chat with the former Cage Rage and Ultimate Challenge MMA featherweight champion. Topics in the conversation ranged from his favorite video games and TV shows, to how he trains and his upcoming opponent—Enrique Briones. And we also talked about the company’s partnership with Reebok and his feelings on one day being a free agent. As a longtime fan of the sport, it was a truly joyous experience to have a conversation with Brad Pickett.
LWOS: I’m assuming you didn’t train at American Top Team (ATT) at the outset of your career, and that you originally trained at home in London, England at first?
Brad Pickett: Well I still train back home in London as well, I train out of place called Team Titan, and then what I do before a fight is I go to American Top Team for a fight camp.
LWOS: So you split time at both?
Pickett: Yea, I’m not here full time (training at ATT), I come out here six to eight weeks before a fight.
As a longtime fan of the sport, it was a truly joyous experience to have a conversation with Brad Pickett.
LWOS: So do you have coaches in your corner from both camps, or just coaches from ATT like Paulie (Paul Gavoni, Brad’s striking coach and LWOS contributor)?
Pickett: I have Paulie, I have Mike Brown; Mike Brown has been my longest serving cornerman; as well as my coach from back in England, Mickey Papas. They’ve been in my corner for a long, long time. So yes, I have a coach from my team back home in England and I also have my coaches from American Top Team.
LWOS: What is your training regimen like going into a fight? Such as the amount of workouts you do per day and do you have rest days?
Pickett: Well, my training regime picks up a lot when I come to American Top Team. But when I’m back in England I keep myself in relatively good shape and do more technique and conditioning sort of things. I spar a little bit when I’m there but I do most of my sparring when I come to American Top Team.
And obviously it changes throughout the years. When you first started out in your career you need to learn a lot of things. Your training more and more times a day to learn new stuff. And also when you’re younger you recover quicker, so you can do that. When you get a little bit older it’s more about refining the techniques that you know. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still trying to learn new techniques as well, but when your training it’s a little more about the quality of training than the quantity. So you need to be very picky about what you do and how you push your body.
And as for rest days, rest is important. As well as training hard, but that’s down to me. Weekends I tend to rest more. I train twice a day most days, and then I train once on Saturday and then on Sunday I rest, or I do something like I did today and I play tennis for a little bit, but nothing serious.
I listen to my body. So even during the week if I’m a bit banged up I may bring down the intensity of some of the sessions, and go for a light jog, or ice bath and a salt and a stretch. After years and years and years of training, you tend to know your body more than anyone else. There’s a thin line between not training enough and over training.
LWOS: When training at such a major camp that offers so much diversity, are training days geared to a specific aspect of the sport or is it a mix of everything?
Pickett: Yea we have a training regime. There’s so many classes going on every day, so in a way it’s like a buffet. You go choose what you want to do. So it’s up to your coaches to decide which classes you attend. And when I say there’s multiple classes, there’s multiple pro classes going on, not just classes. So pros may be doing standing-up, or someone might be doing lessons. But there’s a few key classes that are not mandatory but you’d like to go to.
Mainly I like to get my hard training sessions in the day. Or cardio and technique in the evenings.
Monday’s are hard wrestling, Tuesday’s and Thursday’s is sparring, Wednesday’s I do conditioning in the morning and Friday’s is grappling. Saturday’s is another light sparring day. That’s roughly what I do.
LWOS: With such a large camp, is there an emphasis put on each fighter leading up to their bout? Or is it more of a simultaneous team effort while training?
Pickett: It’s a little bit of both to be honest. It’s a double edged sword sometimes, it’s sort of the pros and cons of being in such a massive camp, you’re not the only fighter getting ready for a fight. So it’s not always going to be about you…not everyone’s eyes are going to be on you.
But part of being in a big training camp as well is you have a vast array of sparring partners. You’re always going to get a good look into who you’re fighting. If you fight a southpaw, or fight an orthodox fighter, a tall guy, a jiu-jitsu guy, a wrestler, it’s a part of being in a massive camp. You can really pick out your training partners for your fight.
It’s not as if your part of a small team where you can get a bit more eyes from your coaches, but you may not have your training partners there all the time. I still have my coaches looking at me and watching my sparring. Obviously I would like Paulie to be there a lot more than he is, but he lives in Port St. Lucie. He doesn’t get down till the weekend, so he really doesn’t get to see my sparring unless I video it and send it to him. He can’t correct me there and then, if that makes sense.
My other coach Mickey is back home in England, so he’s not there as well. And the other coach is Mike Brown, he’s here but his eyes are not only just on me either, he’s probably the busiest coach in the gym. But he does keep a good eye on me.
LWOS: Since so much attention is spread out across the gym, would you prefer a boxing-style camp that is completely centered on you, like more fighters are starting to do?
Pickett: It’s not as if I don’t get attention. I also get loads of attention. Paulie comes down and I see him one-on-one, I do a lot of drilling in the evenings with Mike Brown…I have better training than if I just went and did my own thing.
Obviously if you had all the money and resources in the world, yea. I could go to like Thailand, fly in Mike Brown, Paulie and Mickey. Fly in five different sparring partners and do my own camp. But that’s when you’re earning millions and millions and I can’t afford to do that. I don’t earn that sort of money. So you can’t justify doing that.
I don’t really concentrate too much on my opponent, I concentrate on a date.
LWOS: You have a fight coming up with Enrique Briones on September 3 in Germany. The fight was supposed to happen once before but was cancelled. Is there any difference in having to prep for the same fighter a second time?
Pickett: I don’t really concentrate too much on my opponent, I concentrate on a date. So I am booked to fight September 3rd and whoever is opposite me, is opposite me. I know this sport is crazy and people get injured all the time. So my opponent could change again, it could change another two times or three times. To me it doesn’t matter. I concentrate on my date.
LWOS: Since it is a big story in the industry currently, what are your thoughts on the sale of the UFC?
Pickett: Well, to be honest, I really don’t know, and I don’t know if any fighter in the UFC can tell you if it’s going to be a good thing or a bad thing. Only time will tell in these sort of things. I don’t have a clue. It hasn’t affected me anything drastically; I haven’t gotten a massive pay rise or a pay decrease, or anything like that.
LWOS: Supposedly many of the company’s fighters were alerted via email to the sale. Was that the only correspondence you’ve heard from the UFC regarding the sale?
Pickett: I don’t have no email.
LWOS: What are your thoughts on the Reebok deal a few months into its existence?
Pickett: Some people were absolutely banking with sponsors. Some people weren’t so much. On the whole it’s going to affect every fighter individually in different ways. Do I think for our sport is Reebok good or bad? In a way I think it is good. I like it with the uniforms. Reebok gear I don’t mind. I think it’s quite cool.
One thing it does take away a little bit is the individuality. Sometimes it’s hard to stand out, and now every fighter kind of looks the same. It’s hard to stand out unless you’ve got some crazy tattoos or make your hair pink or something like that.
In a way it legitimizes the sport a little bit.
LWOS: What are your thoughts on free agency and would you be open to fighting elsewhere? Or once your time with the UFC ends will you call it a career?
Pickett: I really wouldn’t know unless I got offered. For me, it’s like, UFC is the biggest organization in the world by far. In soccer terms I’m playing in the Premier League. If the American futbol leagues approach me to go over and play, obviously I’m not playing against the elite and I’m not on the biggest stage, but if they could pay me big money…I’m not saying no, I’m not saying yes either.
It all matters on how my body feels. I would like to stay in the UFC as long as I can, but when I feel that they may be done with me, I possibly would still like to work with them. In some way in Europe or something like that. I wouldn’t want to burn any bridges by going and signing with Bellator.
But then, at the end of the day, I’ve got a kid now. My thought process has changed dramatically since that. It is a lot about putting food on the table for my son and providing for him. So at the end of the day money does talk. So if someone offered me like a million dollars to fight at KFC championships in Kentucky I’ll fight there.
LWOS: I wanted to ask some non-fighting questions. I’ve read that you are a big PC video game player. Do you have any favorite games?
Pickett: I used to be massive into PC games. That was my thing. My massive game was World of Warcraft, I played that for like eight years. I’m very competitive; I didn’t want to be in there to make up the numbers. I wanted to be a really cool character and to do that you have to put a lot of time in; and I don’t have that time anymore. I still love playing video games but now I find myself more and more busy so I don’t play my Playstation nowhere near as much as I used to.
When I’m in a fight camp over here I do get to play video games a bit more. Video games I like to play are more story sort of games and single player games. I like playing games like Dragon’s Age. One of the best solo player games I’ve played, story wise, was The Last of Us. I thought that was an amazing game.
At the moment I’m playing Fallout 4. I’ve been playing that for a long time because I like to do absolutely every little side quest.
LWOS: Is it weird or awesome then to actually be in a video game (the recent UFC video games)?
Pickett: It’s wicked. It’s wicked because it saves me hours and hours on creating my own character.
LWOS: What are your top three favorite movies?
Pickett: My top three favorite movies, it’s a genre, so I love like Lord of the Rings. I’m really into that type of movie. I actually quite liked the World of Warcraft movie. For me it’s that sort of lore. That’s why I’m a massive Game of Thrones fan.
Because the quality of them are amazing, I do prefer TV series to just straight up movies. Because with a movie you don’t really get enough time to paint pictures of certain characters. Where in a series you build characters over a long period of time and it’s so much better.
LWOS: What are some of your other favorite shows?
Pickett: I’m one of those people that I just watch it all. I finished Breaking Bad, I thought that was amazing. I thought Rome was pretty good. Walking Dead was ok for the first couple of seasons and then it just got a bit…bad acting for me.
LWOS: For the final question I’m going to give the name of an individual or entity and I want you to give me the first word that comes to mind when you hear it. Enrique Briones?
LWOS: Demetrious Johnson?
Pickett: Fight gear.
LWOS: Thomas Almeida?
LWOS: Francisco Rivera?
LWOS: “Paulie Gloves?”
Pickett: Second best.
LWOS: Oooohhh, shots fired. Stuart Grant, the guy you beat in your debut in 17 seconds?
Pickett: Nice kid.
LWOS: And last, Mike Brown?
Pickett: Best friend.
LWOS: Thank you so much for taking the time out and answering some questions for Last Word on Sports Brad.
Brad Pickett: No problem at all.