UK MMA legend, Brad Pickett, revealed that the next step in his martial arts career is just around the corner as he will be launching Great Britain Top Team in the coming months. The gym will be an affiliate of the main American Top Team academy in Coconut Creek, Florida and represents the first time that the camp opens a facility in the UK. The fourteen fight UFC veteran trains some of the best up-and-coming talent in the region and will look to open further doors for fighters in this new endeavour.
Up until recently, Pickett played a key role among the coaching staff at London-based gym Team Titan which was quickly becoming one of the most well-known camps in the country. It housed a plethora of talent from the capital including Nathaniel Wood, Dominic Wooding, and Nathan Greyson who all appear to be on the fast track to the top of their respective divisions. Pickett’s former coach and longtime friend, Mickey Papas, will still work at Team Titan but the pair will continue to have a very close relationship and the split has been extremely amicable.
“I’ve just recently left Team Titan to open up a new gym,” announced Pickett. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do as I was just a coach before. Team Titan wasn’t actually mine and I’ve been a massive part of the day-to-day running for many, many years. I live in South London but the gym is in North London so travelling an hour and a half each day to coach really wasn’t productive as I could have been spending that time training fighters. The desire to do my own thing has always been on my mind.”
“I have strong relationships with many of the fighters at Team Titan,” Pickett continued. “At the moment, none of them have made the move because the gym isn’t up and running yet. Logistic wise, I live in South London and Nathaniel Wood is right next to me. I’m his head coach so with people like that, I would like to say they will come with me. However, someone like Dominic Wooding lives right next door to Team Titan so he may feel less inclined to leave. Everyone is welcome to move with me but I’m absolutely not going to force people if they don’t want to. I’m just doing my own thing down in South London near to where I live and whoever wants to come can join me.”
When Pickett was in his fighting prime, he regularly flew out to American Top Team in Coconut Creek to hone his skills and work with many different styles of training partners. He has maintained close links with the gym since his retirement from MMA and has a very strong connection with them. The five-time UFC bonus winner is honored that he has been given the responsibility to continue the gym’s expansion across the globe and intends to make a big impact on the UK scene.
“I used to send people from Team Titan out to ATT quite a lot so my relationships there are great,” explained Pickett. “I get on with Dan Lambert very well and I’ve spoken to him about this new venture. He’s very excited about it and there will be a massive affiliation with ATT. That means I will have some of his fighters coming over when they are competing in the UK, as well as welcoming any who would like to conduct seminars. Also, I’ll send fighters from Great Britain Top Team over to Coconut Creek so they can further develop their skills.”
As well as passing on his fighting knowledge to other competitors, the 40-year-old has also launched ‘One Punch Promotions’ which puts on events featuring amateur and professional mixed martial artists entitled ‘Rise of Champions’. This promotion is owned by Brad Pickett and Mickey Papas, who are both pleased with how it has taken off. There are no shows currently planned because they are trying to find a more suitable venue to host the events which they haven’t been able to do yet due to their busy schedule.
Pickett retired from MMA after his UFC defeat to Marlon Vera in London but was tempted back into the world of competitive sport when Bare Knuckle Boxing (BKB) offered him the chance to step inside their ring. He made his debut in March of this year when he defeated Mark Handley by knockout, twenty seconds into the first round. Pickett really enjoyed that whole experience and the promotion want him to compete again towards the end of the year but he is currently unsure if he will take them up on that offer.
‘One Punch’ briefly flirted with a return to MMA in 2018 when it was announced he was returning to the cage for ACB (now ACA). However, the event he was scheduled to headline got cancelled before the promotion scaled back its shows in mainland Europe. Despite originally saying he wanted to follow through with his comeback, Pickett has now totally closed the door on that chapter of his career. For now, his main priority is to get Great Britain Top Team up and running so he can continue to give back to the next generation.
“I will never return to MMA,” confirmed Pickett. “Throughout my career, I was always competition driven and I wanted to be the number one in the world. Going back into the sport knowing that I’m never going to reach those heights means that the motivation would never be there for me to get up and train as hard as you have to do to compete. I don’t think that feeling would ever change and that’s why I went into Bare Knuckle Boxing. Not only is the training easier as you only have to focus on one thing, but it was a totally new challenge. It was far easier to get motivated for that which is why I may do another Bare Knuckle Boxing match. However, I will never fight MMA again.”
The UK and Irish scene really is flourishing right now as more and more gyms are producing high level talent. Established teams like SBG Ireland and London Shootfighters have maintained a steady output of competitive martial artists while camps such as Team Renegade and Team Kaobon have begun receiving much more recognition for the talent being produced. Brad Pickett will hope that Great Britain Top Team becomes just as important and influential as the aforementioned gyms in this part of the world, in order to maintain the camp’s outstanding reputation. He achieved all that he could inside the cage but now the opportunity is there to extend his legacy outside of it.