Aaron Pico believes he fell in love with striking a bit too much early into his mixed martial arts career.
Pico made it two wins in a row following his first-round win over Chris Hatley due to a rear-naked choke at Bellator 242 this past weekend. It was notably his first win via submission as the accomplished wrestler used his grappling for a change instead of his hands.
The 23-year-old rebounded from his debut loss in 2017 with four straight wins via knockout. However, he would go on to lose to both Henry Corrales and Adam Borics in brutal knockout defeats in succession, leading many to wonder why he never resorted to using his wrestling.
Pico No Longer Wary About Grappling
Pico would since rebound again with a knockout win over Daniel Carey before his most recent win over Hatley this past weekend where he finally used his grappling skills.
And the reason why it took so long was simply because in addition to falling in love with getting knockouts, Pico wasn’t confident enough to go to the ground at the time — which is why he feels those losses to Corrales and Borics were blessings in disguise.
“To be honest with you, I think the biggest thing for me early on is that I fell in love with my hands too much,” Pico said on The Luke Thomas Show. “I think the reason why I did that is because I wasn’t really that comfortable on the ground. I think I was a little nervous about getting in submissions and things like that. I knew how to wrestle but it’s a completely different world when you throw submissions in there. Especially being a wrestler, you do a lot of mistakes.
“Now, I’m doing grappling every single day, that is my favorite thing to do — it’s just grapple. … If I get a takedown, I’ve seen every single submission on the ground and all these different partners. Now, I’m just very, very comfortable grappling. Before, I was like, ‘man, I don’t really want to go to the ground. I just want to knock this guy out and go home.’ I think me losing was a blessing because it forced me to sit back and say, ‘okay, I have to really really put a lot of time in grappling.’ … That’s why I’m very thankful for these losses because it really forced me to sit down and say ‘OK, this where I don’t feel comfortable.'”
You can listen to the full snippet below:
🔊"I'm thankful for these losses because it really forced me to sit down and say 'OK, this where I don't feel comfortable.'" – @AaronPicoUSA on how his losses helped him grow as a fighter👊#TLTS @lthomasnews pic.twitter.com/8yYu0Vh3f7
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) July 27, 2020
Despite his losses, Pico is still one of the biggest prospects in MMA and if he is fully comfortable with grappling now, his upside is even greater.