Few believed that Aaron Pico would get slept with one punch when he squared off with veteran featherweight Henry Corrales last weekend at Bellator 214 in Inglewood, California. But after willingly engaging with Corrales and exchanging heavy leather from the opening bell, Pico ultimately met his demise with a Corrales right hand just 67 seconds into the very first round (highlights here).
Pico’s knockout defeat is arguably the biggest surprise in MMA thus far in 2019 and ultimately captured the attention of many fighters around the sport, including current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. While “Bones” has never tasted a legitimate defeat inside of the cage he has had to overcome many adversities outside of it.
Jones, who is scheduled to defend his light heavyweight strap against Anthony Smith at UFC 235 this March, delivered the following message to Pico when talking with reporters earlier this week at UFC 235’s press conference (shown above courtesy of MMA Fighting):
“He’s the guy with the left hook to the body, right? He body shots people. I just saw the highlight of him being knocked out. My advice to him would be keep your head up. Keep your head up, really. Come back to the drawing board. Come back better. It looked like he wasn’t outclassed, it just looked like he got caught. So keep your confidence in the right place, cause obviously you’re on the right track, and come back even better.”
Pico, who has always seemed to be ahead of the combat curve even at the bright age of 22, already displayed this outlook at Bellator 214’s post-fight press conference (watch here):
“There’s really no excuses to make. 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.”
Assuming Pico is able to take the advice of Jones and remain focused in his training he should have no trouble regaining any momentum he lost at Bellator 214. Because despite the vicious knockout, as well as his debut submission loss to Zach Freeman back in 2017, Pico remains one of the most promising prospects in MMA today.
The young featherweight just has to learn how to avoid brawls and lean on his wrestling to dictate fights.