Drew Fickett – Never Say Die

01/01/2006 .

Drew Fickett -- Never Say Die

By Thomas Gerbasi


For all intents and purposes, it was over. Drew Fickett had been game, but on this October night in Las Vegas, Josh Koscheck was apparently the better fighter, and with less than a minute remaining, he was well ahead on the scorecards and had the Arizona fighter on his back as the seconds ticked away. Like I said, it was over - the final moments of the fight a mere formality before the bell sounded and Koscheck's hand was raised in victory. Someone didn't tell Fickett.

"I knew I was down on points, but I almost had him so many times that I was pretty sure I was gonna catch him," remembered Fickett, but with his back to the mat, he needed a little help, needed to get a stand-up from referee John McCarthy to put the fight on even terms, if only for a moment. "Please John give me a chance," thought Fickett as Koscheck held him down.

"John, give me a chance." McCarthy broke the two fighters and stood them up. Fickett had his chance – now he just had to execute. And he had a plan. "Right before that I almost caught him with a knee coming in because I started backing up during the fight and letting him come to me, rather than being more aggressive, which gave him the easy takedown," he said. "I was pretty optimistic that I was gonna catch him, one way or another." Koscheck shot in hard, Fickett met him with a knee to the head, and suddenly, it was a new fight at the Hard Rock. The Ultimate Fighter season one alumnus fell to the mat and Fickett pounced, locking in a rear naked choke that ended Koscheck's night with 22 seconds left in the third and final round.

 It was one of the most amazing turnarounds you'll see in any sporting event, and a stark reminder that in mixed martial arts, it's truly never over until it's over. But frankly, some in the same position would have mailed it in that night, chalked it up to a bad night, and moved on. Fickett though, on the verge of falling under the .500 mark in the UFC, kept coming, kept thinking that he was going to get his opportunity to pull out the fight.

"In there," he explains, "once I get hit one time, I'm all about strategy, I'm all about how can I win. If I'm fighting, I'm going to fight until the very end because I grew up wrestling, I grew up fighting, and I grew up with close fights and close wrestling matches, so it's never over. There's always a way to pull it out, and always a way to get that victory."

Fickett has had his hand raised over 25 times after a mixed martial arts match during an almost seven year career. On January 16th, he will try to move closer to victory #30 when he faces Josh Burkman, and the bout is an intriguing clash of styles between the newcomer and the veteran. "I think he's gonna try to come out strong, but I think I'm just gonna be too much for him," said Fickett of the fight. "I believe this is gonna be my little coming out party and people are gonna see what I've got." In Burkman, Fickett is facing his second member of The Ultimate Fighter cast in a row. Does he resent being placed in the role of gatekeeper for the UFC newcomers?

"No, I love it," he beams. "I love beating down Team Hollywood. I'm a real fighter and I come from a real place. I've had over 30 fights and I've had to dig my way up from the bottom. The more reality guys they give me, the bigger the smile that's gonna be on my face." Fickett's smiling because he knows that another couple of high-profile wins like the one over Koscheck will move him further up the ladder in what he calls "the toughest division in the UFC. It's a good mixture of speed, strength, power, and skill – it's pretty awesome. Hopefully after I win these next two fights after Burkman, they'll start putting me on some main events, and we'll go from there."

More importantly, if he keeps winning on the sport's biggest stage, Fickett will get to prolong a visit into the 'real world' of a 9 to 5 job.
He laughs.
"I've tried to stay away from the real jobs. You guys and your get rich quick schemes, I'm not into that. I retired to become a professional fighter."
That must be some motivating factor, eh?
"Well, it motivates me to know that if I don't win I might be living on the streets."
All joking aside though, this is a 26-year-old with a good head on his shoulders - a dedicated athlete who is also using his fighting income to work his way through college. So will Fickett, who plans to transfer from community college to Arizona State next semester, be using his studies in psychology to get into the heads of his future foes?
"Nah, I'm pretty nice to all my opponents, all smack-talking aside," he said. "If my opponents are respectful towards me, then I'll talk to them. If not, then I'll just ignore them. I try not to mess with people too much. I remember when I fought Dennis Hallman and he was screwing with me the whole time. It was great."
Nick Diaz - who stopped Fickett last February and trash talked his way through the fight – had to be an opponent to remember too.
"He wasn't a charmer," laughs Fickett. "But I'll tell you, the last tournament he was pretty nice to me, so I've got no animosity towards Nick."
It's this mix of intelligence and athletic skill, as well as the fact that once a fight is over, it's over, that is making mixed martial arts intriguing to a new generation of fans, young and old. There are still those who need some more explanation though, and Fickett refused to get frustrated by people who still think MMA is some sort of barbaric spectacle.
"Everybody's gonna have some ignorance, one way or another, whether it's about fighting or swimming or politics, or anything," he said. "So it's not like I expect people to know everything about everything; I don't know a lot of things about a lot of things out there. I'm trying to learn Japanese right now, but that doesn't mean I know everything about Japanese. So I take it with a grain of salt, and I like to educate people about the sport. I enjoy hearing someone who may have a negative criticism about the sport because that just means they don't know about it, which means that there's something they can learn about it, which is cool because I enjoy talking about it and educating people about it."
Thankfully though, the casual fans are getting more and more educated about the sport with each passing show.
"It's really cool to see that not just the fans, but the families of fans and mothers of fans know what an armbar is and know what a takedown and a choke is," he said. "They're starting to understand the strategy and the sport of it rather than viewing it as such a barbaric thing."
In the end though, it's still a fight, and Fickett has to be ready to take down his opponent by whatever means necessary within the rules. So he sharpens every aspect of his game, even down to competing in grappling tournaments in between MMA fights.
"It helps my submissions, it helps my finishing time in fights," said Fickett, who won in the 180-pound division at Grappler's Quest in Las Vegas and in the Absolute class at the Dragon Lair Grappling Challenge 8 since the Koscheck fight. "The more grappling matches I do, and obviously the more I finish – because I don't grapple to win on points; I grapple to choke people out – the more confidence it's going to build for me. Even if it's just a grappling match, I've still got my arms wrapped around someone's throat, so that's gonna carry over to when I've got my arms wrapped around Burkman's throat in this next fight."
Needless to say, Drew Fickett's ready to chase after the gold in 2006, but in the meantime he's also willing to take on all the Ultimate Fighter alumni the UFC wants to throw at him
"It's a good lunch," he says. "I'm just waiting for dinner."


Good article.

Happy New Year, Joe Cav.

TTT~ Joe Cav...gimme a call when you get a chance~

Drew is the man and has a shitload of heart. Fickett is going to showcase some new skills against Burkman!!

I'll call you now Ray...
Beth, I'll see you in a couple weeks!
Happy New year!

john mccarthy answered his prayers!

Great win and Koscheck is deluded saying the knee was lucky NO SUCH THING you lost Josh. Deal

Fickett is a good good fighter, great win over fucktard i mean Koscheck. Cant wait to see more of him

"He is definitely trying (or was portrayed) to appear more friendly in this interview."

It was a good interview... Drew's a great guy and it came through well in this interview


Did they ever shake hands?

Brad.... Give me a call if you want to go to Littlefield's fights on the 20TH

"Tickets are on sale for Untamed II at the Holiday Inn in Mansfield Ma on Friday January 20th.
This is our 2nd installment under Full Force Productions who ECFA has merged with to better promote and operate our shows.

If you need tickets please contact Rick Caldwell at rcaldwellmma@yahoo.com or by phone at 978-804-1565 "

Fickett really is a never say die kind of guy. He was mounted several times vs. Dennis and kept battling back.

I think there should obviously be a rematch. But it sure would be boring.

CAV will call for sure...I will be there!

Good article.

What's up Joe?

Ray, do you have Jesse Moreng's email address?? If so, I would like you to email it to me if you could. Thanks.

Good article, and I can't wait for the Burkman fight!