Bantamweight contender Brad Pickett, like any competitive person, wants to win every fight. But at WEC 53 on Dec. 16, the promotion’s last show before the UFC merger, it was hard to ignore that his decision win over Ivan Menjivar carried a little extra importance.
“Any win’s important to me,” Pickett told ProMMAnow.com. “I’m a very competitive person and this is a competitive sport. But obviously I had a lot more riding on this one, with the UFC around the corner and me coming off of a loss.”
It was a competitive and entertaining three-round fight, but Pickett felt he did enough to earn the win, particularly in rounds one and three.
“I’m very realistic,” he said. “When I fight, I kind of score the fight in my head as it’s going on.”
In the opening period, Pickett’s well-timed takedowns and ground-and-pound near the end likely made the difference, particularly his ability to duck under multiple spinning backfist attempts from Menjivar and take him to the mat.
“It was hard to really gauge what sort of fight it’d be,” Pickett said, referencing Menjivar’s long layoff. Menjivar hadn’t fought since 2006 until a June 16 submission win over Aaron Miller.
“I was prepared for it,” Pickett said of Menjivar’s spinning backfist. “I was ready to time it.”
Despite the promising start, Pickett figured he lost the second round. He once again took Menjivar down and even took his back and went for an armbar attempt, but Menjivar had Pickett hurt with his striking.
“The second round a little closer,” he said. “He did more damage because he rocked me in that round.”
Knowing the fight would likely come down to the final round, Pickett said he changed up his tactics a bit to utilize his boxing and his jab.
“Hit him with an overhand right, hurt him, flying knee as well,” Pickett said. “When the final bell went, I was pretty confident I did enough to win.”
On that same WEC card, the last man to beat Pickett, Scott Jorgensen, went up against bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, with the additional honor of earning recognition as the first UFC 135-pound champ also on the line.
Cruz used his footwork, add angles, speed, stamina, and takedowns to dominate all five rounds. Having faced Jorgensen before, Pickett gave his thoughts on the bout.
“Jorgenson got picked apart with Cruz’s very unorthodox, good striking, and he got taken down as well,” he said. “I didn’t think it’d be as one-sided.”
With a 3-1 record in the WEC and impressive mark of 21-5 overall, Pickett will now transition to the UFC and could find himself in the title mix at some point. With that in mind, ProMMAnow.com asked Pickett if he had a strategy in mind should he face the current champion.
“I won’t want to give anything away on what I’d do,” Pickett said. “But I know exactly how I’d fight a guy like [Cruz]. I’m not saying I’d definitely win, but I know what strategy I’d use.”
Pickett discusses training partner Mike Brown’s UFC 125 setback
After the Menjivar win and some time with his family back in England, Pickett had been enjoying the holiday season. Unfortunately, things ended on a sour note on New Year’s Day, when his American Top Team training partner Mike Brown lost a split decision to Diego Nunes in a featherweight bout at UFC 125 in Las Vegas.
Most onlookers felt that Brown took the first round and Nunes had the advantage in round two. Round three likely made the difference, and although Pickett felt at the time that Brown did enough to win the fight, two of the three judges sided with Nunes.
Pickett said that Brown was in great shape for the fight but at some point hit a “wall” and lost a lot of steam.
“It’s happened to him a few times early in his career, but he’d find a way to tough it out. It hadn’t happened in really a long time, though,” Pickett said. “It’s like his body just shuts down and he hits wall. If you watched the fight, it looked like he wasn’t in great shape as the fight went on. But I trained with him and I know he was in great shape for the fight. He doesn’t fatigue in training. I think in first round, trying so hard to get takedown, maybe his muscles fatigued, or maybe it was nerves from being back in the UFC. I’m not sure.”