Bellator 214: “Fedor vs. Bader” takes place this Saturday night (Jan. 26, 2019) at The Forum in Inglewood, California. It’s the first major card of the calendar year for Bellator MMA, featuring the conclusion of its Heavyweight Grand Prix as Fedor Emelianenko (38-5, 1 NC) meets Light Heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (26-5) in the main event. Aaron Pico (4-1) will also be featured on the Paramount Network broadcast (also on DAZN) on Saturday. Pico’s Olympic-level wrestling and powerfully hard-hitting hands have seen him plow through four straight opponents who, on paper, all had more experience inside the cage.
Henry Corrales (16-3) has also worked his way through four quality opponents ranging from Georgi Karakhanyan to Andy Main. Despite the vast difference in their amount of bouts it seems destined for the two to meet, with the winner moving one step closer to a match-up with 145-pound champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.
MMAmania.com recently spoke with Pico about taking on what he considers to be his toughest fight to date in “OK” Corrales.
“I think he’s a tough guy. He’s a veteran, he’s fought Bellator’s best, and it’s no cakewalk for me. It’s definitely a challenge, a step up in competition, and we’re ready. We’re ready to get the job done.”
For Pico this bout is also about eliminating potential contenders for Freire, and with no title defenses on the docket since “Pitbull” defeated Emmanuel Sanchez, the door is wide open.
“Absolutely! We’re obviously on a four-fight win streak, he is as well, he’s fought some tough guys. So yeah, I feel like the winner of this fight is in a very very good position to fight for a title. I really believe that.”
Pico also believes this fight was predestined from the moment he signed with Bellator a little more than four years ago. And that it’s happening at exactly the right time and place.
“I knew this fight was going to happen especially when I started fighting with Bellator — I knew that somehow, some way, we were going to end up fighting each other. And here we are — January 26th at The Forum — no better place. He’s from southern California, I’m from southern California, so it’s definitely going to be a great night — that’s for sure!”
Even if the crowd winds up being split 50/50 between them, Pico looks forward to the atmosphere in the venue on Saturday night.
“I have a lot of supporters, but I’ve heard he’s got a lot of fans, too. You know what though? That’s what makes the sporting events beautiful. You don’t want everybody in your favor, you want some people hating on you and giving you some boos. It evens it out and it makes you more excited. I’m sure he’s going to have just as many people as I’m going to have there. I’m excited — it’s going to be a war.”
Since no fight of Pico’s has been out of the first round to date, you may be surprised to learn Pico thinks he’d do better in a war that goes three rounds ... or more.
“During sparring and everything like that, the second third fourth and fifth rounds are always the best rounds for me. I actually get in my groove. The first round, I don’t know, I have this little bit of nervous energy. As soon as I slow down I feel so good. My punch rate actually goes up and the power stays the same — it’s kind of crazy.”
That is kind of crazy when you consider that Pico finished a fight with a body shot, but for Pico it may be his last fight with Leandro Higo that demonstrates the reason(s) he’s ready for the top guys.
“He was a tough guy you know? He said at the weigh ins that he was going to break me and do all this stuff, but I just said ‘Oh wow — this guy he’s coming to fight.’ I just hit him straight on the freaking jaw and he went down and I knew it was over. Once you get hit with my punch, like I’ve said before — my left hand will hurt you, but my right hand will freaking put you in a coffin. It really will. To have power in both my hands is a big advantage going into a fight.”
Corrales now has an opportunity to prove that he can take Pico’s best punch, and with six knockouts and six submissions on his record, he’s dangerous anywhere the fight goes. Pico’s well prepared for that mix.
“I’ve been splitting my time up between Treigning Lab and The Body Shop, so it’s been a great camp. Being with T.J. (Dillashaw) and Juan (Archuleta), and then going over to The Body Shop, working with Antonio (McKee). All is well. I don’t have to work a day job. I just train (and) ride my horse. I can’t complain man, I really can’t.”
As you might expect Pico was full of praise for Dillashaw heading into a world title fight with Henry Cejudo on Jan. 19, one week before his own big fight at Bellator 214.
“Before a fight people always say, ‘This is the best camp I ever had. This is the best I ever felt.’ One thing I can honestly say about T.J. is the numbers don’t lie. I sit here and watch him, the way his output is, he’s actually getting better at 125. He’s actually lifting more weight at 125. How in the hell is that even possible? I don’t think you can get any more ready than he has. I’m excited for him.”
“Excited” is a word Pico favors in his conversations, but watching his fighting style it’s hard to not get excited, too, and hard not to be excited to see him collide with Corrales.
“The biggest challenge for me is that he’s tough. I think my skills all around are better than his. I think my wrestling is a lot better, my quickness and my boxing is better, but in the end I think he’s just tough. He takes guys into deep waters and they fold because they can’t endure that. For me the way I push my body I’m ready for a 10-round fight.”
California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) Director, Andy Foster, isn’t going to sanction a 10-round MMA fight, but you’d better believe that if he did, Aaron Pico would be the first fighter in line to get a license for it.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Fedor vs. Bader” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.
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