Aaron Pico, Daniel Carey verbally agree to scrap at Bellator 238

Aaron Pico has his next fight in his sights.

Pico (4-3 MMA, 4-3 BMMA), a 23-year-old featherweight,  has verbally agreed to face Daniel Carey at Bellator 238. MMA Junkie confirmed the targeted bout after an initial report from ESPN.

Pico will look to rebound after back-to-back knockout losses. At Bellator 214 in January, Pico appeared to be on the verge of victory early against Henry Corrales. On the attack, Pico had Corrales in trouble, but left himself open for a brutal punch by the MMA Lab product. Pico was knocked out cold on impact.

At Bellator 222 in June, Pico was knocked out once again. In that bout, he fell victim to Hungarian featherweight Adam Borics, who nailed Pico with a flying knee before finishing him off with punches.

As for Carey (7-3 MMA, 3-2 BMMA), the 29-year-old Californian is coming off of an upset victory against Gaston Bolanos at Bellator 226 in September. A 7-1 underdog, Carey submitted the Peruvian by guillotine choke in the first round.

Bellator 238 takes place Saturday, Jan. 25 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The main card streams on DAZN following prelims on MMA Junkie.

The current Bellator 238 lineup includes:

Julia Budd vs. Cris Cyborg
Daniel Carey vs. Aaron Pico
Khonry Gracie vs. Hector Saldana
Mario Navarro vs. Jay Jay Wilson
Brandon Bender vs. Gabriel Green
David Pacheco vs. Craig Plaskett
Tyler Beneke vs. Jarrett Conner

Bellator’s Aaron Pico explains how training at Jackson Wink has benefited him

LOS ANGELES – Bellator featherweight Aaron Pico has lived his fighting career under the microscope from the moment he was hailed as one of the best prospects in the sport. And, after suffering back-to-back knockout losses this year, the 23-year-old says he’s taken a step back to take a step forward.

Pico (4-3 MMA, 4-3 BMMA) bounced back from a submission loss in his debut to reel off four first-round knockouts in a row as the hype started to build around him. But a first-round knockout loss to Henry Corrales, then a second-round finish at the hands of Adam Borics saw the Pico hype train hit the buffers in 2019.

And after he was omitted from the Bellator featherweight grand prix lineup, Pico has stepped back from the cage and instead put himself to work at his new MMA home of Jackson Wink MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., where he says he’s benefited from the time away from active competition.

“Obviously, after a fight you lose, you want to go right back in,” Pico told reporters, including MMA Junkie, on Tuesday at Dominance MMA media day. “But I think it was best for me to take some time off and really develop (and) let my body heal.

“I think it was the best for me, just so I can spend weeks with Greg and the other coaches there and really, really learn, rather than just jumping straight into fight camp. Because sometimes fight camp is different than actually out of fight camp.

“Out of camp you get to learn and try different things in training, so the time away from the cage was good for me, but now we should be looking for a fight soon and get back in the cage. I need it.”

Pico admitted he had mixed emotions after his name wasn’t included in the 16-man featherweight grand prix but, despite his competitive urges, he said being left out of the lineup was probably the best thing for his career development.

“Sometimes I’m like, ‘There’s a lot of guys that I feel like I can beat,’ but right now I’m enjoying my time not being in the tournament,” Pico said. “I don’t really have to worry about that stress or have to worry about anything other than just taking one fight at a time. So in a way, it kind of makes sense that I’m not in the tournament. Sometimes I go back and forth. Sometimes I wish I was, and then sometimes I’m like, ‘You know what? It’s a good thing I’m not.’ But I think overall it’s best that I’m sitting out the tournament, for sure.”

Instead of mixing it up with Bellator’s best 145 pounders in the tournament, Pico instead has been sharpening his skills at Jackson Wink, where he says he is benefiting hugely from the input received from coaches Greg Jackson, Mike Winkeljohn and Brandon Gibson.

“I feel really good being out in Albuquerque. I really, really enjoy it,” Pico said. “I love Greg Jackson, ‘Six-Gun’, Coach Wink, they’ve done a really good job of breaking things down for me.

“I’m really young in the game. I’ve got skills, but I need to slow it down a little bit and really learn a lot. I’m very fortunate (Greg) spends a lot of time with me, as do all of the coaches, so I feel really good being in Albuquerque, for sure.”

And after spending most of the summer in New Mexico improving his game, Pico says he’s ready to get one more fight in the books before the end of 2019 as he looks to head into the New Year with some momentum.

“It should be the end of November, beginning of December,” he said of his return. “We should know soon. So we’re just waiting on Bellator. I’m ready, and we’ll be back soon.”

When asked for his prediction for the featherweight grand prix, Pico had no doubt as he picked another of Bellator’s rising stars to claim the crown.

“A.J. McKee,” he said, without hesitation. “I feel he’ll win the tournament, hands down.”

Scott Coker discusses leaving Aaron Pico off Bellator featherweight grand prix

Bellator president Scott Coker appears to be taking things slow with Aaron Pico.

While Pico has been hailed as one of the greatest prospects in MMA, he was thrown to the wolves rather quickly. At the age of 22, Pico has a record of 4-3 and he’s been stopped in all of his losses. In his last two outings, Pico was brutally knocked out by Henry Corrales and Adam Borics.

Coker recently announced the participants for the Bellator featherweight grand prix. Pico’s name was absent.

During a media day session, the Bellator boss explained why Aaron Pico has been excluded from the tournament (via MMAJunkie.com).

“With Aaron, we’re going to meet with his manager either this weekend or next week,” Coker said. “I always felt like after his last fight in New York, let’s take a beat back. He’s a great kid. We have a lot of respect for him. We think he’s going to still come back and be great, but I think it’s time to take a beat. Let him train and let him get through this process. He would be fighting as early as Sept. 7 in eight weeks coming off that fight in New York. I think he’ll be back, it’s just a matter of time.”

It’s important to note that there is still an outside chance that Pico makes his way into the grand prix. During an appearance on ESPN’s Ariel Helwani MMA Show, Coker said that Pico could wind up in an alternate spot.

Do you think leaving Aaron Pico off the Bellator featherweight grand prix was the right call?

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Scott Coker explains why Aaron Pico was excluded from Bellator featherweight grand prix

Earlier this week, the Bellator featherweight grand prix field was finally revealed. One big-name omission was Aaron Pico.

After he devastated four straight foes, Pico (4-3 MMA, 4-3 BMMA) lost two straight fights via brutal knockout. The 22-year-old Californian was hit with a brutal, fight-ending flying knee from Adam Borics, which came on the heels of a January knockout loss to Henry Corrales.

At a media day Wednesday in Burbank, Calif., Bellator president Scott Coker emphasized that he still believes in Pico but acknowledged it’s time for him take a step back.

“With Aaron, we’re going to meet with his manager either this weekend or next week, Coker said. “I always felt like after his last fight in New York, let’s take a beat back. He’s a great kid. We have a lot of respect for him.”

Despite the manner in which Pico’s last two fights went, Coker said he still thinks Pico has a bright future. The turnaround would have been much too soon for Pico, in the eyes of the Bellator president.

“We think he’s going to still come back and be great, but I think it’s time to take a beat,” Coker said. “Let him train and let him get through this process. He would be fighting as early as Sept. 7 in eight weeks coming off that fight in New York. I think he’ll be back, it’s just a matter of time.”

The Bellator featherweight grand prix kicks off Sept. 7 at Bellator 226 with four 145-pound tournament matchups. Sam Sicilia vs. Pedro Carvalho, Daniel Straus vs. Derek Campos, Pat Curran vs. Adam Borics, and Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Tywan Claxton are all scheduled for the event in San Jose.

Four more featherweight tournament matchups are also slated for Bellator 228 on Sept. 28 in Inglewood, headlined by a title fight between champion Patricio Freire and Juan Archuleta. Also, A.J. McKee will take on Georgi Karakhanyan, and Darrion Caldwell will face off against Henry Corrales. Also on the card, Daniel Weichel battles Saul Rogers.

For more on upcoming Bellator events, check out the MMA schedule.

Bellator bracketology: Matchmaking the 16-man featherweight grand prix

Here at MMA Junkie we love a good tournament, and Bellator has brought back the format with a fair amount of success.

It’s seen Ryan Bader become a champ-champ by adding the heavyweight strap to his light heavyweight title, while the welterweight tournament has now reached its finale, with Rory MacDonald and Douglas Lima set to face off for the Bellator 170-pound title and a $1 million prize.

So, with the start of Bellator’s 16-man featherweight grand prix  – the promotion’s biggest tournament to date – set for Sept. 7, I was tasked with the job of coming up with a set of eight pairings that would make a fine first-round lineup for the tournament.

And so, with a respectful nod to my MMA Junkie colleague and author of “Sean Shelby’s Shoes,” Mike Bohn, I ease my size 10s into “Rick Chou’s Jimmy Choos” and try a bit of matchmaking of my own but – with a twist.

Here are my eight (seven actually) first-round matchup predictions for the Bellator featherweight grand prix. I’ve put together a slate of fights that would excite fans and create potentially interesting narratives as the tournament progresses. I’ve even thrown in a couple of wildcard selections to mix things up and keep things interesting, too.

So, without further ado, let’s present our entirely unofficial, fantasy featherweight grand prix draw …



The title fight: Patricio Pitbull vs Juan Archuleta

The first confirmed matchup in the tournament is also a battle for the Bellator featherweight title, as Patricio Freire puts his 145-pound strap on the line against the surging Juan Archuleta.

Bellator’s newest champ-champ will have the added pressure of putting his title on the line every time he competes in the tournament, but Freire (29-4 MMA, 17-4 BMMA) can’t afford to look too far ahead of himself. Archuleta (23-1 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) is as dangerous a contender as he could face right now.

“The Spaniard” is riding a superb wave of form and has the tools to give “Pitbull” all the trouble he can handle in their first-round matchup. But whose power will prevail?

The fight for the right: Daniel Weichel vs Henry Corrales

The first fantasy match in the bracket is a huge one for the two participants, as it acts not only as a gateway to the quarterfinals but also as a world title eliminator.

And in Daniel Weichel and Henry Corrales you have two fighters with different motivations to get to the belt. For Corrales (17-3 MMA, 5-3 BMMA), it’s simple – he’s on a five-fight winning streak (including three finishes), and wants to earn his shot with one more win. But for Weichel (39-11 MMA, 8-3 BMMA), it’s all about redemption.

The German contender came close to finishing “Pitbull” in the opening round of their first meeting in 2015, but the bell saved the Brazilian, who then came back to claim the knockout win early in the second stanza. Then, when they faced off for the belt a second time two years later, Weichel was edged out by the narrowest of split decisions.

In this scenario, one of them would face off against the champion, whomever that may be, in the quarterfinals. But which story will continue? The rising star or the two-time challenger looking to prove the third time’s a charm?

Next page – Left side of the bracket: Bottom

After Bellator 222 loss, Aaron Pico says he has ‘a lot of work to do’

After losing his pro debut, Aaron Pico won four straight fights and then took a step up in competition as he took on Henry Corrales. Although he dropped Corrales early, Pico ended up getting knocked out later in the first round. The loss resulted in another camp change as the 22-year-old went to JacksonWink MMA.

Pico then took on Adam Borics at Bellator 222. There, the prospect started to use his wrestling, but after shooting for a takedown in the second round, Borics went for a flying knee that connected and dropped Pico. He was later finished via ground and pound and his record dropped to 4-3.

Now, on the brink of a .500 record, Aaron Pico admits he has a lot of work to do to get better and show just how good he can be.

Aaron Pico’s Statement:

“I’ve been off my phone for a few days, but I just wanted to give you guys an update that everything is going well. Obviously, we hate to lose, it’s not a very good feeling, but we’re gonna get back to the drawing board,” Pico said (as transcribed by MMANews). “I gotta get back to Albuquerque, figure out with the coaches what I did wrong and bounce back. Right now, just enjoying life, riding my horse, out with the dogs, and just healing up.

“But I hope everybody has a great weekend. Again, thank you for the continued support, I really, really appreciate it. I have a lot of work to do. A lot, a lot of work, but that’s what makes it fun, makes it exciting, and makes it worth getting up in the morning and working to your ultimate goal, being world champion. We’ll get there. Thank you.”

There is no word on when Aaron Pico is looking to return to the cage. But, after dropping two in a row, his confidence has not wavered. He remains certain he will become a champion one day.

What do you make of Aaron Pico’s comments? Sound off in the comment section, PENN Nation!

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/21/2019.

The post After Bellator 222 loss, Aaron Pico says he has ‘a lot of work to do’ appeared first on | BJPenn.com.

Bellator 222 medical suspensions: Dantas, Pico, Sonnen get longest terms

Former Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas could be on the shelf as long as three months.

Dantas (21-7 MMA, 11-4 BMMA) was knocked out in the first round by Juan Archuleta (23-1 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) on the main card at Bellator 222 this past Saturday. As a result, the New York State Athletic Commission has shut down Dantas for 90 days, according to a list of medical suspensions released to MMA Junkie.

Aaron Pico (4-3 MMA, 4-3 BMMA) was knocked out in the third round by Adam Borics (13-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) to close out the prelims and was given a 60-day suspension. Also on the 60-day list is Chael Sonnen (30-17-1 MMA, 2-3 BMMA) after his second-round TKO loss to Lyoto Machida (26-8 MMA, 2-0 BMMA), though it’s likely moot since Sonnen announced his retirement after the fight.

All fighters on the card were given mandatory seven-day suspensions from the commission.

Bellator 222 took place this past Friday at Madison Square Garden in New York. The main card streamed on DAZN following prelims on MMA Junkie.

The list of medical suspensions longer than the mandatory seven days from Bellator 222 includes:

For complete coverage of Bellator 222, check out the MMA Events section of the site.