INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Most fighters on the wrong end of a knockout, much less a young fighter who just got knocked out for the first time, aren’t in any real rush to go face the media afterwards.
Aaron Pico is not your ordinary fighter.
The highly touted Southern California featherweight got caught by Henry Corrales in the co-feature bout of Bellator 214 on Saturday night, capping as frenetic a 67-second stretch of fighting as you’ll ever see.
But there was Pico at the podium during the post-fight press conference at The Forum, saying this was all a part of the game.
“That’s just what you do,” Pico said. “When you win the media is always here, when you win. And you have to show your respect, you can’t just be coming out when things are good. When the shit hits the fan, you gotta be a man.”
Pico also wasn’t coming out to make any excuses for the loss. Pico dropped Corrales with an uppercut to the jaw and rushed in to finish. Instead, Corrales found his way to his feet, and after a wild dirty-boxing exchange, Corrales caught Pico flush with a wicked overhand right which ended the fight.
“There’s really no excuses to make,” Pico said. “I felt good out there. My training camp went well. I hit him. I think I have so much power in my hands, I don’t realize I knock people down. It happened so fast. Obviously I made a mistake by staying in the pocket too long. It’s a 50/50 chance of somebody getting knocked out. That sucks, it sucks bad. But hey, I’m 22 years old, I don’t have this figured out yet. It’s something that needs to be slowed down for me. I need to use my wrestling a little bit more and we’ll go from there. We’ll go back to the drawing board.”
Pico has world-class wrestling skills, but he’s also had all six of his fights end in the first round, and all four of his victories were via knockout. So with all his fights ending in furious fashion, he’s never had a chance to utilize those skills. Pico is starting to recognize that he’s going to have to slow the pace a bit.
“I just need to take my time,” Pico said. “I haven’t gotten to use my wrestling because I’ve been knocking all these people out, but it’s a learning lesson against these veterans, they’re able to endure the shots and find their spots and weather the storm a little bit.”
Indeed, with hindsight being 20/20, Pico was asked more than once at the press conference if perhaps he’s been pushed a little too fast. Corrales, after all, is a high-level competitor from the famed MMA Lab who was in his 20th pro fight Saturday night and has now won five consecutive fights.
But Pico’s having none of that. He’s had six pro fights, but he believes if he was fighting others with a similar amount of ring time, it would be bad news for those opponents.
“Do we take lesser opponents? Okay, give me a lesser opponent. There’s going to be a hefty hospital bill, because I will really f*cking hurt somebody bad. That’s for me personally, I will hurt somebody that’s the same record as me. I will literally hurt them.”
At the end of the day, while Pico, who lost his pro debut before rattling off a four-fight win streak, showed maturity in simply showing up to face the music in front of the media, it still doesn’t lessen the sting of defeat.
“I f*cking hate to lose,” Pico said. “I hate to lose, it’s that simple, whether it’s my pro debut or for a world title or whether it’s just a regular guy, that’s why it hurts so much. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into it, you know?”