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Fatherhood gives Pickett different motivation in Octagon


Fighting used to be a fairly cut and dried experience for Brad Pickett. First, it was to prove that he could be the best European bantamweight, then the best in the world once he made it to the WEC and UFC. Today though, Buddy Pickett has changed the way the new father looks at the world and his day job.

“Being a successful fighter, you have to be selfish at times about your training and going away,” he said. “But when you have a kid, it's not about you anymore, it's about your kid.

Born last September, Buddy is the apple of his dad’s eye, and worth all the necessary sacrifices he makes to provide for his son as well as challenge the best 135-pound fighters on the planet.

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“My motivation has changed a little bit,” Pickett said. “Now, I need to provide for my family and my son, and now I'm thinking about winning more than anything, because you get paid double. So winning, to me, is of more importance. I won't say it's put pressure on me, but it's given me a different type of focus. It's given me a new lease on life in my training.”

Consequently, the old drives of going into a fight to put on a show or earn a title shot have settled into lower places in Pickett’s hierarchy of goals. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want those things anymore. It’s just different now.

“All I'm thinking about now is providing for my family,” he said. “I never really fight because I hate the person in front of me. I always fight because I love what's behind me, and even more so now because I have a son. Before I always used to fight for the fans and hope that I put on a good fight. Now I still fight for the fans, but I fight for my son as well. I need to put food on the table now. So it's a little bit different mindset.”

With a new mindset also comes the reality that maybe, just maybe, the 37-year-old East London native has to adjust the way he operates in the Octagon. Maybe now, starting with his Saturday bout against Francisco Rivera, he can be more strategic and less inclined to get hit and become Brad Pickett, especially after three consecutive losses, the most recent coming in his return to bantamweight against Thomas Almeida last July.

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“I like to think that, but when I get into the heat of battle, it all goes (out the window) basically,” he laughs. “In my mindset in that fight (against Almeida), my game plan was to take him down and out grapple him. And I ended up just beating him on his feet and I never expected that. I love fighting on my feet anyway, I like being in wars, but then I let the kid get a chance and he came back and hit me with a great shot and that was it. So I need to be a bit more sensible now and stay away from danger when I can and not just brawl it out. I had never been knocked out in my entire life, so that was an eye opener. I had never been knocked out before, now I can get knocked out, so now I need to be a bit more careful. Before I'm like 'you can punch me because I'm going to hit you back harder.' That's always been my mindset.”

It’s why Pickett remains one of the most popular fighters in the organization, win or lose, and his fan base will likely be louder than ever on Saturday, since he will be fighting just a couple miles away from home. And while Rivera is a late replacement for the injured Henry Briones, at this point, Pickett isn’t concerned with who shows up at the O2 Arena, as long as someone does.

“I'm pretty confident I'll be fighting,” he laughs. “As for who I fight, I don't care. I'd fight the postman if they put him in front of me.”

That postman may not be able to make 135 pounds.

“I'll do a catchweight.”