Aaron Pico will be the first to admit he got a little ahead of himself when he first transitioned into MMA after he was considered a prodigy thanks to his background in both wrestling and boxing.
Unfortunately, he stumbled at the start before amassing a 4-3 record in his first seven fights with the last loss on his resume coming from a spectacular flying knee knockout delivered by Adam Borics. A six-month break followed and when Borics returned to action he had spent significant time training under coaches Greg Jackson and Brandon Gibson while also starting to work with a new manager to help direct his career.
Since then, Pico hasn’t tasted defeat while rattling off six straight wins in a row and he largely credits that success to finally figuring out the sport.
“I really do [feel like a mixed martial artist now],” Pico told The Fighter vs. The Writer. “I was just with coach Greg [Jackson] but last week I asked him a question just using our terminology that we use and he said ‘damn, Aaron, you’re actually starting to understand combat.’ I looked at him, I said I never would have been talking this language three years ago, four years ago and it feels really good.
“I really owe it to all my coaches. Greg Jackson, Brandon Gibson, they really put a lot of time into me. I ask a ton of questions. I feel really good. I’m excited to go out there and fight.”
In the three years since Pico suffered his last loss, he’s finally developed into the kind of fighter everyone expected him to be on his first day in the sport. He’s dominated his competition with three knockouts and two submissions in his past six fights.
With a fight booked against Jeremy Kennedy at Bellator 286, Pico believes it’s finally time for him to graduate from prospect to contender with title aspirations already in sight.
“I’ve had time,” Pico said. “I’m physically ready. I’m mentally ready. I’m going to be 26 on Friday and I think that time is arriving when we’re ready to fight for a world championship.”
On Saturday when Pico is looking for a seventh consecutive win, he’ll be sharing the card with the man who handed him his last loss as Borics battles for the Bellator featherweight title against reigning champion Patricio Pitbull.
Pico obviously has a vested interest in the outcome — now more than ever with a potential title shot on the line with a win — and he can’t hide his preference when it comes to the showdown between Pitbull and Borics.
“If you’re asking me who I want to win, I want Adam Borics to win,” Pico said. “I really do. If I could have it in a perfect world, I’d fight, god willing, win, beat Jeremy Kennedy and fight Adam Borics, [avenge] that loss and become a Bellator world champion. That’s what I have in mind.
“If I could write out a perfect story, that’s what I would want. I’m rooting for him. I’m rooting for Adam Borics for sure.”
There’s rarely an instance where a fighter wouldn’t like a second chance at an opponent after a loss but Pico admits the way he fell to Borics in such dramatic fashion always stuck with him a little bit more than the other blemish on his record.
“I’ve been waiting for that rematch for a very long time,” Pico said. “I’ve obviously been staying focused on Jeremy Kennedy but I want to get that rematch with Adam Borics.
“I think he caught me early on in my career. If you look at the fight, I was dominating the whole thing until I got hit with the flying knee. Hey, s*** happens but I’m a whole different fighter now.”
In fact, Pico is so different that he’s no longer just hunting for a Bellator championship — he’s confident that winning the featherweight title is inevitable.
“I’m not ready to be a champion — I’m ready to be a great champion,” Pico said. “That’s what I’ve been saying. I’m at the point in my life to fight for that title. I don’t want to be a good champion, I want to be a great champion. What I mean by that, I want to defend my belt and I think I’m ready.”