Aaron Pico and the Balance of Combat Life

Aaron Pico
INGLEWOOD, CA - JANUARY 20: Aaron Pico (red gloves) defeated Shane Kruchten (blue gloves) by knockout in the first round of their during their Featherweight fight at Bellator 192 at The Forum on January 20, 2018 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Behind the curtain of success is always balance. Work must be balanced with a release, beauty with ugliness, and fun with misery. One without the other holds no context. The human body rapidly breaks down without proper exercise and diet. As it does with too much strenuous activity accompanied by minimal rest and unsuitable recovery. In mixed martial arts, work becomes intensified in this facet. Within the realm of sport, work becomes mental as well as physical, in combat sports, work is also extraordinarily dangerous. Making the release aspect a considerably valuable asset. Bellator 206’s Aaron Pico has such a release.

Aaron Pico and the Balance of Combat Life

Hectic Childhood

Since he was a child, Aaron Pico rode horses. Being born in the urban area of Whittier, California, owning a horse was never a possibility. As he grew, Pico stuck with it. Yet, as his athletic ability and combat sports dominance continued to grow with his age, free time slowly began to vanish.

The Californian kid traveled the world competing in pankration and wrestling. His boxing talent made him the 2009 Golden Gloves champion, as well as the tournament’s most outstanding boxer. Behind it, was horse riding.

Back on the Saddle

Eventually, his hectic schedule had taken away his time on the saddle. For a little while, a passion of his had been crammed into the small space of weekends. After his first loss, Pico decided it was time to reinvest in his release. Instead of simply riding on the weekends, he elected to purchase his first horse.

“I’ve always rented horses as a kid and time didn’t allow me to have a horse but I was able to ride on the weekends and after my loss, I was like man I want to get back to my horse-riding and stuff. Literally, right down the street from my house, there’s a big equestrian center and there’s a horse community that people ride horses and stuff so I can ride the riverbed in the mornings.

I’m there every day, I’m up at 5 and then I’m at the stables at 6. It’s only literally 8 minutes away, it’s something that I start my day off every morning doing and it’s really helped me so far in my career. I really enjoy it. It keeps my mind not so focused on fighting all the time. You just drive yourself nuts if that’s all you think about.”

Championships and Ranches

One of his goals is to own a ranch. While it was not the area he was born in, it is the environment he thrives in. It’s the lifestyle he enjoys. One that is conducive of a good family. Ranch life provides many intangible lessons which many of this day and age are not privy to, even in advanced age.

“A big goal of mine is to have a ranch and ride horses with my family. That’s ultimately what I want, I want to be able to win a lot of world titles, make a name in MMA, have a ranch, and be with my horses and my kids. So for sure going to the stables every morning keeps me very focused on what’s the task at hand and my ultimate goals; be world champion, defend my belt, have my ranch and live my life.”

To become a champion, a road must be traveled. A treacherous road of contenders and starving fighters, eager for their opportunity at gold. For Pico, his professional career is already littered with the name of talented fighter’s only four fights into it.

“Ultimately I was the one who made that decision (to fight tough guys) and I thought I was ready for it.  I was ready for it, I just rushed in [and] got clipped but that’s just kind of who I am. I take risks. That’s what I do, I’m not like some other young guys that just take [opponents] that they know they’re going to beat. I’ve taken the risks so by the time I’m 25 years old it’s going to be no problem for me… Yeah, I’m a little crazy in that way but the people who I train with and the work that I put, I want to be on that high level.”

The Next Challenge

His fifth opponent, Leandro Higo, represents his toughest challenge to date. There is no doubt that Leandro Higo is a high-level fighter. Not only is he considered so, but he is among the best of whichever weight class he resides in (bantamweight or featherweight).

Higo holds an invaluable set of experience within the sport of mixed martial arts. The Brazilian fought over 20 times, held a respectable organizations title (RFA/LFA), and challenged for the Bellator bantamweight title (Higo had two scheduled Bellator title fights. In his first, he missed weight). Higo represents a slight step up in competition. The ‘Pitbull’ fighter holds an infectious championship pedigree. At this point, a victory over Higo suggests a significant bump in the division rankings for the victor.

This isn’t lost on Pico, he understands the opportunity and challenges Higo presents. He relishes the chance, almost to a point of anger and displeasure. Displeasure that Higo would dare come up to Pico’s featherweight division to challenge him.

Moving Up the Ranks

“Honestly, it’s just another day for me. I’ve wrestled against the best in the world, I’ve fought across the world, I’ve wrestled guys in Dagestan, I’ve spent time with them. It’s no different. I’m confident in my skillsets, I really am. I’m confident in the team I have behind me. If anything, he’s got to be worried about me. I’m free, I’m ready to go. I’ve got knockout power in both hands. I have takedown defense, I can take him down so the pressure is on him,” Pico told MMASucka. “He’s never faced a guy like Aaron Pico before. He hasn’t faced a guy that doesn’t get tired, keeps coming and that’s going to freaking break your will. The pressure is really going to be on him and I’m going to come out victorious.

We are going to win that fight.  I feel confident when I say that. Then he’s probably going to have to go down to 135 because as long as he’s at 145, I’m there, he’s not going to go anywhere. He’s going to have to get through me and I’m going to be at 145 for a very, very long time. So once I get done with him, I don’t like to get cocky but he’s going to have to go back down to 135. He’s a very tough guy and I don’t take him for granted but this is different. It’s a whole different beast when you fight me. I’ve got the team behind me, I’ve got the pedigree behind me. I’m ready to go and [I] just hope he’s prepared.”

The demeanor of Aaron Pico does suggest a brazen person who steps inside of cages. He speaks with a calm ease in his voice. A tone that is a mere opposite of the adrenaline raging fighter set to make the walk Saturday night in San Jose, California. It is another representation of his balance. With balance comes success and for Aaron Pico, there is just as much success on the horizon then there is laying on the path behind him.

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