Online Exclusive: Brad Pickett swings for the fences, but technique comes first

Jim Reader talks to ‘One Punch’ about the striking game that has made him a fan favourite

02 May 2012    |    1 Comments

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Image courtesy of: Fighting Fit

Utilising an aggressive, suffocating and stifling striking style, Brad Pickett sucks his opponents into an all-fronts assault that forces them to either stand their ground or crumble under the pressure. The London-born bantamweight’s stand-up game can sometimes be viewed as wild, reckless, and perhaps the archetypal example of the slugging, British brawler, but Pickett insists that his striking credentials are not without precision, technique and calculated audacity.

Always inside the pocket, ‘One Punch’ has edged notable wins over top fighters Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson, Ivan Menjivar and most recently a submission victory over Damacio Page at UFC on Fuel TV: Gustafsson vs. Silva, but this method of close-quarters fighting has sometimes cost the 33-year-old his night, such as his rear naked choke loss to Renan Barão at UFC 138.

But does this make Brad Pickett’s fighting style risky? With an impressive record of 27-6 – not to mention two back-to-back Fight of the Night performances in his only two UFC outings – the former Cage Rage featherweight champion tells us where he draws the line between calculated risk and reckless abandon in mixed martial arts.

Would you consider yourself a risk taker?
If you’re looking from the outside, it may look like I’m a risk taker, but that’s just the way I fight. I’m not really scared of getting hit and I like hitting someone, so I’m not afraid to trade in the pocket, and I think I fight better that way. They’re all calculated risks. [In the Renan Barão fight] I didn’t come off so lucky. I went out there and I was pretty wild. I was going after him because what I saw in previous footage was that he didn’t like it when people put pressure on him, but when I did it he wasn’t fazed one bit and he looked very composed. As soon as I realised that approach wasn’t working, I decided to pick my shots and not go crazy, and that’s when I got caught. He threw a knee and my face was in the way. With my style, sometimes the aggression works for you, sometimes it can work against you.

What would you consider a risk in an MMA bout?
A lot of people take risks, especially in the ground game, to try and finish the fight. Sometimes they go for submissions and finish, and sometimes they end up in a bad position, so there are a lot of big risks that people take. If you get hit and you’re hurt, you’d be stupid to stand up, so you take the guy down. Sometimes there are people that do things that look flashy and crazy, but they’ve drilled it so much that they’re really good at it. There’s not as much risk as people think from the outside.

How much of a role does technique have in an aggressive striking style?
I throw hard, but I still have technique. It’s not like I have my keys in my hand and I’m throwing windmills. I’m a brawler and I’m a boxer, so I throw my punches with a lot of power but still with technique. I still keep my defense and use head movement and try to slip punches and counter them. I try and draw people into trading punches. You’re taking risks if you want to get in the pocket, and I like doing that. If I’m fighting a guy who doesn’t like doing that, they’re playing into my game. If they’re not used to fighting with that intensity they leave themselves open and make mistakes because they’re not thinking about what they’re doing, they’re thinking about what I’m doing.

Is there a time when you have taken a calculated risk in a fight?
In my fight with Ivan Menjivar, the first couple of rounds were a back and forth war. We started trading and beating eachother up, but in the third round I thought I’d go all out and I started outboxing him, working the jab, and I ended up dropping him with the overhand right, so sometimes you need to switch things up in a fight. I fight like that all three rounds because I’ve got a good gas tank to last the distance, so it’s not a risk for me. I try and put a guy away from the first minute to the last minute and that’s what fans want to see. It’s the people who lay-and-pray and just stay on top, they’re the ones the fans don’t like so much.

Do you think title holders tend to take fewer risks?
Guys like Georges St-Pierre probably don’t want to take risks, because why should he? He’s a champion. He takes risks, he loses his belt. You fight each opponent to your best strengths; you don’t need to take risks to make an exciting fight because you are the champion. Some people who are coming up, taking risks and looking good finishing fights do it to try and get themselves a title shot. Jon Fitch, who lays-and-prays, takes people down and grinds them out; the fans don’t want to see that in a title fight, so he’s less likely to get a title shot than a Paul Daley who goes in guns blazing. When you are the champion you don’t have that problem. I fight really well when I’m the underdog, when I’ve got nothing to lose.

For more on Brad Pickett and the psychology of risk taking in combat sports, get the June issue of Fighting Fit, ON SALE NOW! To purchase this issue online please click here.

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09 June 2012

Have you ever made weight for a sport?.Ask any wleetrsr, boxer, etc. They'll all tell you it's easier to drop weight than to gain it properly. By properly, I mean putting on lean muscle and not just adding fat to make a higher weight like some fighters do. Not to mention adding muscle like that can change your cardio sometimes or your speed/reflexes in a fight until you get used to it. If a fighter feels skinny/powerless from cutting, he probably cut too much or did it wrong.


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