Henry Corrales has finished 12 of his 19 opponents. Aaron Pico has never been out of the first round.
When the two face off in the featherweight co-main event of Bellator 214 on Saturday, you get the sense that someone is hitting the canvas and staying there. Both fighters are on four-fight win streaks and a definitive finish would all but guarantee the victor a shot at champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.
MMA Fighting recently spoke to Corrales, who stressed that while getting his hand raised is the most important thing, ideally the judges won’t be needed.
“I’m always disappointed for sure if I don’t get the finish, for me that’s the name of the game is going for that finish,” Corrales said. “I’ve got 16 victories and 12 finishes, so that’s what I’m going for.”
The time is now for Corrales to set his sights on a title shot. Having recently signed a new four-year deal with Bellator, Corrales is as secure — a relative term when it comes to MMA — as he’s ever been in his fighting career. An 0-3 start with the promotion is in the rear view now that Corrales is on a run that includes becoming the first fighter to stop Andy Main and a unanimous decision win over former World Series of Fighting champion Georgi Karakhanyan.
Corrales thinks the Pico fight could be the biggest of his career, though he didn’t want to overstate its importance nor any potential personal stakes. He and Pico both hail from Whittier, Calif., but Corrales said they’re of “different generations” and don’t even know the same people.
However, he is excited that this will be his third straight January fighting at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and all he needs to know about Pico is that he’ll bring the fight on Saturday.
“The big thing is I’m kind of a self-centered fighter, I’m worried about what I’m all about and what I bring to the table,” Corrales said. “This guy has some credentials and he’s legit and it’s definitely elevated our training camp and we’re going for it, we’re training really hard. The big thing for me is to make sure I bring my best self to the table. That’s kind of what I’m worried about.”
Single-minded though he may be, Corrales isn’t afraid to look ahead, especially with a title opportunity so close to his grasp. The 32-year-old MMA Lab representative has actually shared the cage with Freire already, stepping in as a short-notice replacement and losing via second-round submission to “Pitbull” back in April 2016 at Bellator 153.
He’s never been picky about his opponents, but Corrales would love to have a full camp for another crack at Freire.
“F*ck dude, I like fighting, so I get pretty excited fighting all these guys,” Corrales said. “There’s a little bit of vengeance on my mind with ‘Pitbull’ having the belt and me fighting him on 13 days’ notice. It would be cool to get back in there and mix it up with that guy.”