Brad Pickett is out of retirement and is adamant that his decision to return to the cage is purely based on a need to scratch a competitive itch.
On Thursday, MMA Fighting broke the news that the Londoner is set to debut under the ACB banner in his hometown on Aug. 11 when the Russian promotion hosts its first event in the English capital, ACB 91.
“One Punch” reached a decision to retire after competing three times in five months. His third consecutive defeat marked his final bow in the Octagon. He bid an emotional farewell to the adoring London crowd when he left his signature hat on the canvas following the third-round defeat to Marlon Vera in March 2017.
However, having been on the sidelines and in the corner for the likes of UFC newcomer, Nathaniel Wood, Pickett’s urge to test himself provoked him into signing a multi-fight deal when ACB reached out to him.
“Towards the end of my career, I had three fights in five months and at that stage I was ready to retire; I was done with the sport. It wasn’t because I had picked up an injury or anything like that, I was just fed up with it,” Pickett told MMA Fighting.
“As a coach I’m doing really well, all of my guys are doing great. I’m still very hands-on with my fighters. I’m still very competitive and after taking a year off, this just seemed like a good opportunity for me.”
Pickett says the talk of his return started in jest, but eventually an offer piqued his interest.
“It just kind of happened. I got an offer from ACB for their London card. It started off as a joke, you know, they were asking me if I wanted it. I think it must have planted a seed because all of a sudden I started to think, ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ The only reasons why I wouldn’t do it would be health related, but my health is completely fine.”
Although Pickett has signed a multi-fight deal, he insisted that he would walk away from the sport again if he didn’t enjoy the experience of his return bout.
“It’s on my terms. I don’t have to compete multiple times, it’s going to depend on how I feel after my fight,” he said.
“I want to be selective in the type of opponents I face. If something sounds cool I’ll be into it. I just want this to be fun. I just want to take a fight and enjoy the fight rather than trying to climb a ladder or get in contention for a belt. I’ve been there and done that, and now I just want to do what interests me.
“I’m not stupid, I’m not going in there to take out ACB’s best prospects or anything like that. I know I still have a few good, competitive fights in me and I hope that this can fulfill that for me.”
He insisted that financial incentive isn’t driving his decision.
“It’s not for the money, but it certainly helps. It’s not like I was out begging for a fight and ACB did me a favor. I wasn’t even considering coming out of retirement but the deal I’ve been offered was too good to turn down.”
Aware that his decision to return to fighting would likely bring about criticism, Pickett insisted that he would not compete again if he wasn’t healthy. He plans to undergo pre-fight medicals to ensure that he will take to the cage in good health.
“I know I’ve got to be thick-skinned because I know a lot of people are going to be talking sh*t. They should go and worry about their lives instead of worrying about mine. I’m doing this for myself, my family, my friends and my fans — the people who care. People who have negative things to say should put their energy into something else, because it’s wasted on me,” Pickett said.
“I’m still very competitive and I think I’ve got something left in me to give to the fight game. If I wait for five years then I definitely won’t do this. I’ve got to do it now,” he said. “I’m going to get all the medicals done ahead of the fight and after the fight because I know health is important. I’ve got a family at home, so I need to look after my body. I know I’ve got to be sensible about this.”
Pickett hopes to face Takeya Mizugaki in his ACB debut.
“I wanted to fight Takeya Mizugaki a few times in the UFC but it never materialized,” said Pickett. “He’s with ACB too so it seems like a good time to do it. He’s an older guy as well so I think it’s more on my playing field. I don’t need to fight some young kid. I don’t have a point to prove. I just want to be involved in a really good fight.”