Last time the Ultimate Fighting Championship came to England, Morden’s Brad Pickett was clearly emotionally overcome after grinding out a victory.

In front of a sell-out home crowd at The O2 arena he secured his first win in two years, and the first since he became a father for the first time.

Speaking from his north London gym as he prepares to take on Iuri Alcantara at UFC 204 in Manchester on October 8, the man known as One Punch told us: “I had a lot of demons in my head I was fighting going into that fight.”

After a frustrated attempt at dropping down a weight to flyweight where he targeted a bout with champion Demetrius Johnson – who he had already beaten once – he suffered a surprising defeat to Thomas Almeida after knocking his opponent down not once, but twice.

Pickett said: “Straight after that I had my first child so by the time it came to the fight I hadn’t technically won a fight in two years.

“And being in a sport where winning means everything it is like ‘man, am I past it now? Is everything gone?’

“I had just had a kid, I needed money to put food on the table. With our sport you get paid X amount to show and double to win so a lot rides on winning or losing.

“Going into that fight, it didn’t matter who I fought to be honest, it could have been number one in the world or it could have been the dustman – I had a lot of pressure on me. I think it did affect my performance.”

Now with that victory under his belt, Pickett feels the pressure is off, at least just a little, and he can focus on putting on a display for his fans.

The 38-year-old is known as one of the most exciting fighters on the circuit – having won Fight of the Night at five events as well as Knock Out of the Night and Submission of the Night once each.

He said: “At the end of the day I know that I am an entertainer and people tune in and pay money to watch me fight or watch the show.

“I understand that I need to be involved in a good fight or make it an exciting fight.

“If you were a comedian and you’re at a gig and everybody is laughing at everyone else but you crack a few jokes and no-one laughs then people aren’t getting value for money.

“You have to understand it is important to be involved in an exciting fight. My style makes fights exciting but it is in the back of my head that I need to make this fight exciting.

“I am very aggressive and I don’t mind getting hit. I have a weird masochistic way – ‘you hit me as hard as you can and I’m going to hit you’.

“It’s probably not the most intelligent way to fight and coaches are probably pulling their hair out but the fans love it and in the back of my head I like it. My wife obviously doesn’t.”

At the same time, Pickett said there is a misconception about the injuries in mixed martial arts events. Although fights can frequently get bloody, most wounds are superficial and he said he picked up worse playing football.

In fact, it was a ruptured ACL sustained in a Sunday football match that put paid to his playing days and put him on the path to becoming a fighter.

Pickett is a huge Spurs fan, he grew up in east London and he still trains there. But these days he lives across town in south west London.

He said: “I moved down to south London for my wife. I really like the area. I was very dubious to start off with - ‘why do you want to live down there?’ – but it is a really good area and I’m near the park.”

Initially the Picketts moved close to Richmond Park but these days they are closer to his wife Sarah’s mum in Morden.

He said: “There’s a nice little park right near my house, my road’s very quiet and it is a good place to bring up a child.”

Headlining the bill when Pickett last fought at The O2 was Michael Bisping, a perennial challenger who earlier this year got a last-minute opportunity to finally fight for the title. His fairytale came true and on October 8 he will again be on the top of the bill, defending his title in his home town of Manchester.

For Pickett, Bisping’s journey is one he can associate with – the pair have been fighting at the same events since their early Cage Rage days – and it is also one that offers him some hope.

He said: “We have had similar sort of paths in our career and I think we are a similar sort of age.

“It gives you a little bit of hope that you have still got a chance. There is still a chance that something could happen.

“I’m not completely focussed on the title but if something comes along I believe I can beat anyone in the world in my weight class.

“Some days suit you better than others and some match-ups suit you better than others. Sometimes things are just written for you.”

Watch UFC 204: Bisping vs. Henderson 2 live on BT Sport 2 from 1am BST on the morning of Sunday, October 9th or catch the Early Prelims on UFC Fight Pass from 11:30pm BST on Saturday, October 8th