Brad Pickett (22-7, 2-2 UFC) vs. Mike Easton (13-2, 3-1 UFC)
Brad Pickett and Mike Easton are both looking to get back into the win column as each had their ascension up the bantamweight rankings halted in their last fights in the octagon. Pickett had won two straight fights prior to dropping a decision to Eddie Wineland at UFC 155 in December. Easton had won his three appearances in the UFC before also dropping a decision to Raphael Assuncao at UFC On FOX 5 in December. Pickett is 3-2 and Easton is 4-1 over their last five fights.
Fight Breakdown- This has the potential to be a slugfest as both like to work at a quick pace and both will continue to move forward. Pickett will come out fast while Easton tends to start out slow, and that could help Pickett get the early edge in the fight. Easton fought terribly against Assuncao as he was picked apart and was unable to make key adjustments to win the fight. If Easton just slowly prods forward and misses on throwing heavy punches, Pickett will make him pay with quick combinations inside the pocket. Pickett likes to land his lead hook coupled with uppercuts, and he is nicknamed ‘One-Punch’, and while he does not always land one-punch knockouts, he is quite capable of finishing with strikes.
A battle on the mat may interest Easton more in this fight. Easton has a wrestling background and holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and he is not afraid to land heavy shots from a top position in order to pass guard. Pickett is very active when he is on the bottom, and he has good ability to create scrambles to get fights back to the feet, or to find ways to secure a choke in. Easton possesses a solid guillotine choke and is good at controlling the action on the ground, and he can force the fight to be a boring grappling battle should he choose to do so.
Pickett is ultra-aggressive and conditioning is not a question with him- he will be able to go the distance. It is up to Easton to be as aggressive as Pickett is and counter with heavy shots. Easton has the power to do so and he mixes his striking well with kicks and knees. Pickett is super tough to finish, as is Easton for that matter, and this could be a fight with a lot of strikes thrown that goes the full 15 minutes. It is a small shame that this fight is not five rounds as that could have made for an even better fight, so both men will make it matter in the time they are in the cage. Aggressiveness and striking will be the keys to a win, and Pickett has the slight edge in both.
Why It Matters- Pickett was on his way to a title fight when he lost to Wineland in December. Wineland got a title match with Renan Barao based on his win over Pickett, so that has to motivate Pickett to get back on the winning track. A win for Pickett could move him into a potential matchup against the winner of next weekend’s Urijah Faber vs. Scott Jorgensen fight, which would definitely have title implications riding on it.
Easton was on his way to getting into title contention before having a flat performance against Assuncao. It was the kind of performance that moves a fighter away from the title picture for a bit. A win would likely make him two more fights away from title contention, but a loss would be much more detrimental. Easton and Pickett both need a win, but a loss would hurt Easton more, which should give him extra motivation to score the victory.