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MMA: Londoner Brad Pickett admits preparing for final fight is ‘strange’

PUBLISHED: 13:30 02 February 2017

Brad Pickett works out ahead of his next UFC outing in London (pic UFC)

Brad Pickett works out ahead of his next UFC outing in London (pic UFC)

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Bantamweight set to end pro career at the O2 Arena on March 18

Brad Pickett is all smiles ahead of his next UFC outing (pic UFC) Brad Pickett is all smiles ahead of his next UFC outing (pic UFC)

Bow-born Brad Pickett says it is daunting knowing he is preparing for his final fight in UFC as the clock ticks down on his MMA career.

The 38-year-old is gearing up to face Henry Briones of Mexico at the O2 Arena on March 18 in what Pickett has confirmed will be his last bout.

The bantamweight first stepped into the octagon as a professional in November 2004, beating Stuart Grant on the Cage Rage 9 card at Wembley Conference Centre.

And with the end of his 12½ year career fast approaching, Pickett admits it is bizarre knowing he is gearing up to fight one final time before hanging his gloves up.

“It is a strange feeling preparing for this fight because fighting has been such a huge part of my life,” he said.

“I’m only walking away from the octagon as a competitor, but it’s still quite daunting knowing this is the last time I’ll prepare for a fight.”

It should be a special night at the O2 in March for Pickett as he bows out in front of his home crowd and he has already had a taste of what to expect.

The 38-year-old took part in the last UFC promotion to be staged at the O2 in March last year, defeating Francisco Rivera on the undercard of UFC Fight Night 84.

And in his last bout last month, Pickett was beaten by a legend of the sport in Urijah Faber, who himself was retiring in front of his home crowd in Sacramento.

It is of little surprise to learn that Pickett is delighted his final fight will take place in London and says he would not have chosen to end his career anywhere else.

“London has been such a big part of my whole career, it’s where I made my professional MMA debut so it’s a great chance to retire there,” added the bantamweight.

“There is no way I would have my last fight on any other card other than one that would be taking place in London.

“I was offered the Faber fight, so I took it, but I always hoped I would have the chance to finish my career in London.”

As for Briones, Pickett had been scheduled to face the Mexican twice before, but injury prevented the pair from meeting in the octagon.

The Londoner was due to fight Briones on the cards of both UFC Fight Night 84 and on UFC 204 in Manchester last October, before

pulling out through injury.

After both withdrawals, Pickett spoke of how he hoped he would be able to fight Briones at some point in his career, and he now hopes he can finally do that in March.

“Briones is on a roll, but we both still have to make it to the ring on March 18 as injury has prevented us from fighting before,” said Pickett.

“It’s no-one’s fault in particular, it’s a tough sport that we’re both in and hopefully we can both make it to the night this time.

“I’ve wanted Briones for a while because his style is the type I want to face; we both like to box, so it should be a good match-up.”

• Tickets for UFC Fight Night London are now on sale and can be purchased from Ticketmaster and AXS. For information, visit ufc.com/event/ufc-fight-night-london-2017.

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