Solo Hatley Jr. looks to take out another popular prospect in Aaron Pico this Friday when the pair square off at Bellator 242.
Hatley Jr. (8-2) is coming off a split decision victory over Gaston Bolanos in his promotional debut in February where the 23-year-old was tabbed as a 3 to 1 betting underdog. Looking to play the role of spoiler again, “The I.R.S. Man” believes Pico is very susceptible to being knocked out.
“He’s a real great wrestler, he has ok boxing (but) he’s kind of got that Cody Garbrandt chin,” Hatley Jr. told Cageside Press. “I see him striking with me for a little bit. Soon as he gets hit, he’ll start going for takedowns. I do see me finishing him either at the end of the first round or beginning the second round.”
Hatley Jr. added, “‘I’m gonna try my best not to make this go to the decision because I believe him being who he is … they’re probably gonna give him the win. I know the politics of MMA. I mean beating Bolanos is one thing, I wasn’t surprised, but this is Aaron Pico.”
Pico (5-3) rebounded from back-to-back knockout losses by picking up a submission victory over Daniel Carey at Bellator 238 in January. The 23-year-old Jackson-Wink MMA product is one of the most talked-about fighters in the promotion and Hatley Jr. knows what role he’s playing in this match-up.
“I really think Bellator put me against him because they want him to get back to the win column,” Hatley Jr. said. “You know since I’m an upcoming prospect and just beat Bolanos, It’s like if he beats me, then it’s like, ‘Oh yes, he is everything we said he was’ type s–t but this is my opinion on it.”
Bellator 242 takes place Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. UFC veteran Sergio Pettis faces Ricky Bandejas in the main event.