It took Jamie Pickett three appearances on Dana White’s Contender Series — and nearly the end of his fighting career — to do it, but the 30-year-old middleweight has a UFC contract.
Pickett (11-4) became only the second contestant in Contender Series history to lose twice on the show before finally earning a contract in his third appearance. The North Carolina native knocked out Jhonoven Pati at the 33-second mark of the second round on Tuesday with a blistering combination while on the feet.
After suffering losses to Charles Byrd and Punahele Soriano, both of whom went on to receive UFC contracts, on previous seasons of the show, Pickett admitted he contemplated hanging up his gloves for good. The morning after making that decision, however, Pickett says he received a text from his management offering one more shot at the UFC.
“He finished the fight with a 22-punch combination tonight,” White said of Pickett’s performance. “This was his third time on the Contender Series. His dues have been paid in full.”
In all, the UFC awarded four new contracts inside the promotion’s Apex facility in Las Vegas. In addition to Pickett, 23-year-old flyweight Jeff Molina (8-2), middleweight Collin Huckbody (8-2) and lightweight Rafael Alves (19-9) all signed with the UFC.
Pickett’s story definitely stood out — he joined Don’Tale Mayes as the only three-time Contender Series contestants to earn a contract — but it was arguably Molina who stood out most in the cage.
Molina defeated Jacob Silva (6-3) in a wild three-round bout. Molina dropped Silva with a right hand in the first round and opened a cut on Silva’s right cheek with a picture perfect head kick in the second round, but Silva kept coming until the end. Despite Silva’s resiliency, Molina showed composure for a youngster and ended up winning by scores of 30-26, 30-27 and 29-28.
“I loved everything about this fight,” White said. “I love how aggressive Molina is. After each round, they just got done fighting a war, and he gets in your face. He plays the mind games. He’s young, has the skills and has the perfect mentality, in my opinion, to be in the UFC right now.”