It took three appearances on Dana White’s Contender Series for Jamie Pickett to earn a contract. Now, he’s hoping to earn some fans as heads into his UFC debut.

Jamie Pickett didn’t believe UFC President Dana White was going to award him a contract following his second-round stoppage win over Jhonoven Pati earlier this summer.

Despite the fact that he closed out the contest with a string of consecutive strikes that would score scads of bonus points on Street Fighter V, the 32-year-old middleweight wouldn’t allow himself to get excited about the performance he put on and the long-awaited reward it was likely to bring.

“When I won on the Contender Series, it was like — so much stuff has gone wrong for me in life that I was sure I was going to get up there and they were going to tell me, ‘No, do another one,’” Pickett said with a laugh. “When he said, ‘Come get your contract,’ my heart dropped.

“I was pretty happy about that.”

Pickett’s victory in August was another example of the old adage, ‘The third time’s the charm,’ as the North Carolina native had come up short in each of his first two attempts to secure a UFC contract in Las Vegas. It was also the culmination of a lifetime spent overcoming all types of challenges and the payoff for placing one more bet on himself.

From an early age, there weren’t many people in Pickett’s life who believed in him.

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Raised by his grandparents and separated from his siblings by social services, the UFC newcomer, who faces fellow Contender Series graduate Tafon Nchukwi on Saturday night in Las Vegas, spent a lot of time by himself, listening to people tell him he wouldn’t amount to much, wondering why he constantly had to go without.

AUGUST 25: (L-R) Jamie Pickett punches Jhonoven Pati in a middleweight bout during week four of Dana White’s Contender Series season four at UFC APEX on August 25, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/DWCS LLC)

Growing up without the kind of guidance he needed — “My grandparents did the best they could,” he acknowledged — Pickett struggled, “stumbling over my own ignorance” as he put it. He internalized the emotions those challenges created and blamed himself for his perceived shortcomings.

Plagued by self-loathing and self-hate, anger became his defense mechanism and a hair-trigger meant that getting into fights was a frequent occurrence.

Childhood dreams of being a boxer morphed into ambitions of fighting in the UFC after he saw Urijah Faber fighting in the WEC.

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