From fighter to coach: Brad Pickett on a mission to give back to MMA

Being a fighter comes with huge rewards with the chance of fame, fortune and creating life-changing for loved ones as well as encountering the highs and lows that comes with competing with combat sports.

But what happens when it’s time to hang up the gloves?

For some, they go into the world of media, for others they disappear into the distance but for former UFC fighter like Brad “One Punch” Pickett, the transition from being a fighter to a coach has been one that has enabled him to use the skills and experiences he has learnt from America Top Team to help build and improve fighters in this field.

The South-West London native was head coach for Team England a couple of weeks back as he was in the corner for George Staines who beat Denis Frimpong of Team Ireland to win the Channel 4 reality TV show The Oktagon Challenge in Manchester.

The TV series brought the best prospects from both England and Ireland with the winner getting an opportunity to win a professional contract and that is something that Brad loved about being part of the competition.

Pickett said: “The Oktagon Challenge, it’s great TV. It’s the same thing as the Ultimate Fighter in the UFC. It gives people the chance to relate to the fighter in different ways.”

The transition from being a fighter to a coach.

But the hardcore MMA fight fans will know Pickett best for his years fighting in the crazy world of the UFC where he had built a cult following for his attractive fight style that saw him fight the likes of Mike Easton and Urijah Faber. Despite fighting for arguably one of the biggest organisations in the world, he always had the bug to coach and help people and that would be evident when he formed his own gym to continue this.

Formed in 2019, he helped to form the Great Britain Top Team gym in Morden to help coach regulars who are looking to just keep fit or try something new to a range of MMA fighters who are working towards making the occupation full-time to those fighting for organisations across the country and even the world.

Brad spoke about how he has used his experiences to have a positive impact on his fighters, the different kinds of coaches that are present within the sport and the importance of combat experience to roles relating to coaching.

Pickett said: “I’m not too sure to be honest. There are many types of coaches, there are those who are technical and to be a technical coach you don’t have to be a fighter yourself but to be what I say to be a role model and to be a leader, you must have walked the path people are asking them to take.

“I have walked this path before as I have been a fighter and whatever I tell you, I know what you’re going through. You have trust that trust from the fighter because I’ve been there, and battle tested and what I am showing you is working in the combat environment.”

{Image Source: Connor Patterson}

Amateur fighter Connor “The Paradox” Patterson is one of many prospects who train at Pickett’s gym and spoken about the importance he has had on his career and how he is viewed as a father-figure in both his sporting and personal life.

Patterson said: “It’s good to have someone that supports you and it is important to have someone that is honest with you.

“After one of my fights and I had a bit of a layoff because of injuries and stuff like that. It wasn’t one of my best performances and basically Brad was up-front and honest with me and it kind of like got in my feels for a second and got a tad butt-hurt that I was being criticised after winning. 

“He’s never nasty and is always approachable and he’s like a friendly, kind of jovial person and is never serious.

“He is one and still is one of my idols in the sport.”

Those are the words of Brazilian MMA athlete Weslley “Magic” Maia who is another fighter that trains at the gym and is someone that has spoken positively about his current coach and the impact he has had on his career.

Maia added: “He gives me a lot of confidence. He spends a lot of his time at the gym to try and get use ready emotionally. He is someone who has got true experience, has experience in the big leagues and he is a huge inspiration.”

The most successful of coaches from a variety of sports understand that this element is key for a variety of reasons as areas such as, teamwork and understanding how to utilise the strengths of each athlete whilst also finding solutions in how to cultivate a winning and successful culture within the organisation.

The current Great Britain top team head coach has touched on the importance of imparting wisdom to his pupils and has referenced the experiences he has had with different coaches he has had throughout his career and the lessons he has taken in ensuring that each person takes something away from his own coaching formula that he has put together along the way.

Pickett said: “In any walk of life, you have the book of life. I look at someone else’s book and I might be I like what you do there and I take their page and put that page in my book.”

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