Aaron Pico has officially put the entire Bellator featherweight division on notice.
Pico (4-1), a multiple-time boxing, freestyle wrestling and pankration champion, steamrolled through former title challenger Leandro Higo (18-5) in violent fashion at Bellator 206 in San Jose, Calif. During the scrap, fans witnessed the 22-year-old turn in a skull rattling first round TKO, putting to rest the talks of Pico being overmatched against the experienced Brazilian.
“I was saying this was the biggest test of [Higo’s] career,” Pico told the media during the post-fight press conference. “He’s never fought a guy like me, he’s never fought a wrestler like me, a guy who can hit as hard as me. So it was a big test for me but it was also the biggest test of his career. Everybody says they’re going to bring it to the ground, but once you feel my power, it’s on a whole other level.”
It was truly a star-making performance on the biggest stage of his young career. But more importantly than impressing the fans, was impressing his boss, Bellator president Scott Coker, who couldn’t help but heap praise on his future superstar.
“It was like watching lightning,” said Coker when asked about Pico’s performance. “It’s so impressive because of the amount of pressure Aaron puts on his opponents and the amount of firepower he has and the skill he has standing up, striking, going down, getting up. He can fight at all different levels. He’s extremely dangerous. He fought a guy that was a title contender and was no joke. I think Aaron picked up him apart and took it to him quite easily. I think that says a lot about him and his ability.”
So with another victim crumpled behind him, Pico immediately turned to Higo’s cageside teammate Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, who just so happens to be the reigning Bellator featherweight champion. Screaming, Pico pointed at the champion and warned him his “time was coming.”
“There’s a new generation of young fighters and the clock is ticking down for [Freire],” said Pico. “Everyday that he goes and trains, there’s a guy like me waiting to get a shot at him and take his belt. That’s just how it goes.”
As for when he envisions challenging for the promotion’s 145-pounds title, Pico didn’t seem to be in much of a rush.
“It’s not up to me,” said Pico. “My whole job is to progress as a fighter. That’s so important to me right now. I’m very young in my career and I have a lot of things to work on. Like I said, being the best fighter doesn’t happen over night. It takes many years. But all I can do is progress and take each fight as they come. That’s my job.”