Few fighters have entered MMA with as much build up as featherweight prospect Aaron Pico has. Coming off a stellar amateur wrestling career that saw him win multiple US National Championships, Pico transitioned to MMA last year with mixed results.
In his first MMA fight against Zach Freeman last June at Bellator 180, Pico may have suffered a 24-second submission loss, but in hindsight it wasn’t all bad for him. After making some changes, Pico was able to rebound and pick up a first round TKO win over Justin Linn at Bellator 183 in September.
“Of course I hate to lose, but what came out of that loss changed my life, for sure,” Pico told MMAWeekly.com. “I got the phone call from Antonio McKee from the Body Shop saying that they can help me. I started training with them and it changed my whole outlook on MMA.
“I knew I was going to rebound from (the loss) and I did. I wake up the mindset of how become the best fighter in the world, apply it in the practice room, and you’ll get better. Just show up, do the work and you’ll get to where you need to.”
It’s his work with Coach McKee and his teammates at the Body Shop that Pico feels has made all the difference and gotten him on the path to success.
“In the beginning I was fulltime wrestling, so I wasn’t able to work on wrestling as much as I’d like, but now that I’m a fulltime MMA fighter, I’m starting to come into my own and find what works for me and what doesn’t work for me,” said Pico.
“Being with the guys at the Body Shop, everybody has their own style, their own strengths and weaknesses, and coming together to work on our styles has been great for me. I’ve learned a lot and have improved so much.”
Pico (1-1) will look to pick up his second win when he takes on veteran Shane Krutchen (12-3) in a main card 145-pound bout at Bellator 192 on Saturday in Los Angeles.
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“I think he’s a tough guy,” Pico said of Krutchen. “He’s got a great record. He’s more experienced than I am. But I’m just going to go out there and do what I do: relax, use my jab, throw my punches, and take him down if I want to. I’ve worked on every scenario with my coaches and teammates, so I’m ready for anything.”
While there’s always going to be a lot of scrutiny on his fighting career thanks to his success in wrestling, Pico is ready for it and is going to use it to drive him forward to towards his goals in MMA.
“That’s what drives me to go to practice sometimes when I’m not feeling the best; to learn, to stay focused in practice, and keep pushing me to do it,” said Pico. “That’s what makes superstars is that pressure. That gives you the motivation to be the best fighter you can be.
“God willing I can stay healthy and I’ll fight as much as I can. People like to see fights, and this is what I like to do, so I want to be champ of the world and defend the belt.”