New Opponent No Problem for Fickett

By Tommy Messano Mar 28, 2008
Tough breaks are nothing new to Drew Fickett (Pictures).

From EliteXC title shot to No. 1 contender eliminator, the news most likely didn't even elicit a shrug from the UFC veteran. Fickett is not about championship belts or media exposure. He simply fights to test himself against the best.

In fact, Fickett was already armed with a proverb for his current situation.

"Karate up!" was the rally cry for the heavy underdog when he thought he was going up against perennial 170-pound powerhouse Jake Shields (Pictures). The slogan was borrowed and modified from the ultimate underdogs, the 2004 Boston Red Sox World Series champions, whose mantra was "cowboy up."

When you're a cowboy and you get knocked off your horse, you "cowboy up." When you're a 28-year-old fighter from Tucson, Ariz., and your fight nearly gets scrapped, you "karate up."

Fickett is no longer the underdog against his new opponent, South Korean fighter Jae Suk Lim (Pictures), but the mantra still applies. It's time to suck it up because Lim is too good of a fighter to take lightly.

Lim is currently the reigning Spirit MC middleweight champion, having earned the title on March 3 in Seoul, South Korea. Though not discussed in any top-10 lists at 170 pounds, he posts a 9-3 professional record and defeated Daniel Pinedo (Pictures) in his EliteXC debut.

Currently the top welterweight outside the Zuffa umbrella of fight orgs was Fickett's former opponent, Jake Shields (Pictures). After Shields withdrew due to a severe back injury, Fickett's game plan and training strategy was left on the cutting room floor.

Shields was a dominant wrestler with a good top game, which gives way to Lim, who is known more for his striking prowess.

The Lim contest is the first of a three-fight deal with EliteXC for Fickett that comes on the heels of his move to the Armory in Jupiter, Fla., where he spent the majority of this training camp. Fickett had kindled a relationship with Armory fighter Kurt Pellegrino (Pictures) after the two fought at UFC 61 in July 2006.

"Kurt's been a good friend of mine for a while now after we fought," Fickett said. "I went out there to help him train for Alberto [Crane]. So now I came out to train for my fight. I really like their conditioning coach, and they have a lot of good wrestlers. I really like the atmosphere out there, and it's laid back.

"I'm more of a coach at Southwest MMA. Sometimes it's hard for me to get pushed because you have to coach the fighters and get a workout in for yourself."

Still a fundamental part of Southwest MMA in Tempe, Ariz., Fickett's balancing act of teaching and training has him hoping to reap the rewards of the extra work inside the cage. He's riding a three-fight winning streak and is not shy in declaring that fighting a top-10 opponent gives him a renewed sense of vigor in his fight preparation.

"I think this is the first time I've really been motivated for a fight in the last few years," Fickett said.

Squaring off with an unknown opponent is something Fickett knows all to well. In a story that sounds more folktale than fact, in June 2005 Fickett was called upon to fight in a show he was merely attending as a fan. Coming off a loss in his UFC debut to Nick Diaz (Pictures) four months earlier didn't factor into his decision to step up. As the legend goes, Fickett allegedly ate a few hot dogs, jumped rope for 20 minutes and then pounded out a TKO victory.

In sports terminology he is the definition of a "gamer." Earning a 32-5 record over a 10-year span finally earned him the elusive title opportunity, but what's championship glory worth to a no-nonsense veteran?

"I just wanted to fight more," he said. "I'm not a political fighter. I don't care about titles. I don't care about being famous or anything. I love to fight. I love to fight game guys who are really good. I don't like messing with all the politics involved."

Get a win in San Jose and a title shot in beautiful Honolulu awaits. Slip up and the two fights remaining on his non-exclusive deal may take on a much lower profile.

Anytime promoters select an opponent to put in front of Fickett, one thing is for sure: It's difficult to defeat a fighter who has everything to lose but believes he has absolutely nothing to lose.

Watch Drew Fickett (Pictures) defeat his current training partner, Kurt Pellegrino (Pictures) at UFC 61.
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