Aaron Pico understands that he needs to be fighting up in the rankings. The problem is, no one ranked in the featherweight division wants to fight him.
Pico (11-4) related his struggles to land a ranked opponent to Cageside Press ahead of Bellator 295. Following a one-sided beatdown of James Gonzalez at the event, he expressed his readiness to become champion, while touching on the opponent issue once again.
“I feel I’m ready to be a world champion. Now is the time. I’m ready to fight for a world championship,” Pico exclaimed following the event in Honolulu, Hawaii, the second of back-to-back Bellator cards in the island state. “[Patricio] Pitbull is going down, and from what I’ve heard, he’s staying down. I think that Jeremy Kennedy and I should fight for an interim title. I think it makes sense; we shouldn’t hold up the division. And when Pitbull is ready to come up, I’m happy to welcome him to the division.”
Kennedy and Pico faced off last year, with Pico injuring his shoulder early in the fight. That gave Kennedy a TKO victory, and while he’s over the mishap, Pico does not count it as a loss.
If the fight is not forthcoming, Pico will carry on towards gold regardless, and try to land a ranked opponent in the process. “I’m going to fight for a world championship. Whatever I need to do, I’m going to fight. I’m number three, I’m number three in the rankings right now. I’ve taken risks fighting guys that are not ranked— that’s a big risk, but that’s not my fault. There are guys in the top 10 that have turned down fights with me, and there’s nothing I can do. I need to fight somebody above me, but I think the most sense if fighting for that title.”
Saturday night’s contest with Gonzalez saw plenty of standup action from Pico, a dominant wrestler who also has bonafide boxing credentials. Particularly nasty were the body shots and uppercuts the 26-year old let loose throughout the fight.
“The whole game plan for this fight was just to stay on my feet. Greg Jackson [coach] wanted me to get comfortable and be able to feel comfortable the whole fight on my feet if I have to,” revealed Pico. “It’s a little bit of a scary thing to listen to, because I’m so good at wrestling, but I trust in my coaches, and whatever I need to do to grow as a fighter, I’m going to do. And I think we did a great job tonight.”
As for any concerns about his surgically repaired shoulder, “that thought is out of my head,” Pico stated. “I had surgery, the doctor said that I have eight brackets in my shoulder. If you have that hesitation going into the fight, you probably shouldn’t be fighting. That’s a scary thing, I would never want that to be in the back of my head. So no, I don’t think of it.”
Watch the full Bellator 295 post-fight press conference with Aaron Pico above.