Bellator 214’s Aaron Pico admits his debut loss forced a quick adjustment. Now, he’s excited to be sharing a card with the legendary Fedor Emelianenko.
Los Angeles, CA — Aaron Pico was not supposed to be in the co-main event at Bellator 214. Yet here he is, after Gegard Mousasi was forced out of the event. Taking on the always tough Henry Corrales, Pico is thrilled the share the card with a legend like Fedor. He said as much at Wednesday’s open workouts ahead of this weekend’s event in Los Angeles — but noted that in the end, it’s like any other fight.
“To be honest with you, I was really excited. I really had to sit down and say ‘wow, I’m on a co-main event with Fedor, Bader,'” Pico told media outlets including Cageside Press. “Obviously it’s a big event, a lot of people watching.”
Yet despite the attention and the legendary Fedor, “I just take it like every other fight. It doesn’t matter if I’m on first, if I’m on the prelims. A fight is a fight. It just has a different name, co-main event.” The objective is the same. “Go out there and win.”
Winning is what Pico has been doing, after an initial setback in his debut. Since then, he’s been a finishing machine, against increasingly tough competition. In his mind, “you fight a guy that’s 1-3, same amount of fights I have, it’s not the same amount of enthusiasm. I’d rather get paid less money to fight a tougher guy. That’s just my mindset right now, I’m not worried about anything other than being the best.”
Beat the best to be the best, in other words. “I’m in a position to be the youngest world champion in history. Twenty-two years old,” he added.
Of course, hitting such a high level at such a young age comes with its own unique set of dangers. Look no further than Jon Jones as an example of what not to do, at least outside the cage. So how would Pico avoid similar missteps? “That’s a good question, I haven’t been in that position but I can tell you one thing, my family will keep me in check,” Pico suggested.
The embarrassment of being caught going out and doing something he shouldn’t, then going home and facing his grandparents, or his parents, would be a motivating factor to stay on the straight and narrow.
“I wouldn’t want that shame upon me if I was to do something I wasn’t supposed to,” the young star said.
As for Corrales, who is no doubt Pico’s toughest test to date, “skills pays the bills. I’ve got better wrestling than him. Cardio. Striking. It’s going to be an interesting match-up, but I feel I’m going to come out on top.”
If Pico sounds confident, it’s for good reason. His body shots have been punishing. He has won four straight in Bellator’s featherweight division. “I had a rude awakening in my first fight,” he admitted. “I was in Madison Square Garden on the biggest stage. That loss would have crippled a lot of young fighters.”
Instead, Pico built on the loss. “I had to adjust, I had to figure out really, really fast how my training was going to take place. Because I knew all the fights were going to be tough, there wasn’t going to be no easy challenges.”
There haven’t been since, and that streak of tough fights will continue on Saturday, January 26 at Bellator 214.