It’s another fight week for Brad Pickett. And though the recently-retired UFC / WEC vet won’t have gloves on this Saturday when his Rise of Champions (ROC) promotion puts on its fourth show (which airs on a video-on-demand basis on UFC FIGHT PASS in October) with a 17-fight card at Brentwood Leisure Centre, it’s still the same old stress for “One Punch.”
“It’s the worst thing in a world because every message you get on your phone, you’re worrying about somebody pulling out,” he chuckles. “It’s a lot easier getting punched in the face.”
Well, at least he doesn’t have to cut weight, though those phone calls can take away a promoter’s appetite as the days countdown to fight night.
You would think that the 39-year-old Londoner would have slowed down to take a bit of a holiday after his final pro fight against Marlon Vera in March. But that’s just not his style, so it was back to work soon enough as he put this card – headlined by a bout between UFC vet John Maguire against Shahid Hussain – together.
So why promoting?
“As of five minutes ago, I don’t know why,” he laughs, clearly finding his sense of humor in the eye of the storm. But after a laugh, he makes his intentions clear.
“Obviously, I’ve been in and around the game for a long, long time, and I think I have valuable knowledge,” Pickett laughs. “I’ve been on good shows, I’ve been on bad shows, and I think with my insight, I can run a world beater show. I think I have a very well organized show, and I can help young amateurs and young professionals develop. When I was starting in the sport, there wasn’t much of an amateur scene, but now there is. We’ve got some really good platforms to develop and that’s what I’m trying to do, to put something back into the sport.”
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This weekend’s card contains five pro fights and 12 amateur bouts, making it clear that if fans are looking for value for money, this is where to go. But Pickett isn’t just loading up a card; he’s doing his best to provide competitive matchups every step of the way.
“There are people who just promote to sell tickets for some guy who’s rubbish at fighting, but he’s very popular, so he’ll sell 150 tickets,” he said. “And you can’t afford him losing, so you bring in some guy who’s actually worse than that guy. For me, no one wins in that scenario apart from the promoter. So I deal with really good gyms so I know I get real high-level athletes from those gyms. If I get a guy from London Shootfighters and he’s 4-0, I’ll match him against somebody who’s 2-0 or 3-0, around the same sort of experience. Then automatically I know that’s gonna be a good matchup.”
If anyone knows good, competitive fighting, it’s Pickett, whose nearly 13-year career saw him fight the best of the best on the top level of the sport. One of only two men to defeat pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson, Pickett earned five post-fight bonuses in his UFC run, so when he hung up the gloves in March, he was rightfully celebrated by his legion of his fans and his peers. And luckily, he was able to take it all in and enjoy it, though he does have an odd way of describing it.
“How I explain it without getting too morbid is that when someone dies, you have a wake, and people say loads of nice things,” he said. “‘Aw, I really miss this guy, he done this and done that.’ And you wish the person could hear all these things. And in a way, because of my retirement, I’ve heard so many good things from people, even from people I didn’t think cared at all, and I got to hear it. It was very overwhelming for me.”
So basically, Pickett had a living wake.
He laughs…and agrees. So promoting hasn’t taken the joy from Brad Pickett, even though he has another analogy for what fight night is from the other side of the cage. It’s not glamorous, but at least the fighters and fans will be happy.
“It’s like having your own house party, but you don’t really get to enjoy it,” he said. “You’re worried about somebody breaking something or something going wrong. And running my own show is the same thing. There’s so many things to worry about, and everyone else is having a great time, and it’s me making sure everything’s going to plan.”
ROC 4 will be available on a video-on-demand basis on UFC FIGHT PASS in October.