Aaron Pico envisions taking boxing lessons from famed cornerman Freddie Roach and getting mixed martial arts schooling from celebrated fighter Antonio McKee while becoming a bonafide crossover combat fighter.
“A lot of people say I’m crazy to think about doing both, but it’s impossible until somebody does it,” said Pico, who turned 22 this week. “I’m going to be that guy. I want to be the best combat fighter of all time. It’s going to take a lot of work, but I feel it can be done.”
The venture continues when Pico (3-1) meets Leandro Higo (18-4) in a featherweight fight at Bellator 206 on Saturday night at San Jose’s SAP Center.
The new streaming service DAZN (offering a free one-month trial before a $9.99 monthly charge begins) will stream the card headlined by a meeting between middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi and welterweight champion Rory MacDonald.
“Every fight I’ve had has been on the big stage, on national TV, with lots of eyes. … I did my work, my studying. Now I’m relaxed and I just need to get in there and approach it like I always do: like it’s a championship fight,” Pico said.
Roach, boxing’s seven-time trainer of the year, and former MMA fighting veteran McKee will corner Pico in the first bout of the main card that also includes a trilogy meeting between former welterweight champions Douglas Lima and Andrey Koreshkov in the opening round of Bellator’s welterweight grand prix and a fourth showdown between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Wanderlei Silva.
While former boxing champion James Toney was trounced in his attempt to fight UFC champion Randy Couture in the cage, and UFC two-division champion Conor McGregor was outclassed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring, Pico’s ambition is no novelty act, he says.
Pico, a former decorated amateur wrestler, says his devotion will help him reach his goal.
“The most important thing for me now is to be the best MMA fighter I can be, but I still want to transition into boxing. It’s not in the backburner,” Pico said. “First, win an MMA championship, but when the time allows me to have a pro boxing fight, I’m definitely going to be ready for that. That’s why I constantly work with Freddie.
“Everybody says I’m crazy because all I do is work, but this is what I’ve wanted ever since I was a kid, to be champion of the world. This is serious for me. If you’re not growing, there’s people behind you willing to take your place, so every day is so crucial for me. I’m preparing for big main events, those five-rounders.”
Pico expects his stand-up work will likely be displayed against Higo.
“I know I’m capable of contending with the best fighters in the world,” he said. “Ask Freddie. You best believe when it’s time for me to make a run in the boxing game, it’s going to be exciting.”
Main event: Middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi (44-6-2) vs. welterweight champion Rory MacDonald (20-4) for Mousasi’s middleweight belt
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: SAP Center, San Jose
Broadcast: DAZN streaming
Undercard: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-13) vs. Wanderlei Silva (35-13-1), heavyweights; Douglas Lima (29-7) vs. Andrey Koreshkov (21-2), welterweight grand prix; Aaron Pico (3-1) vs. Leandro Higo (18-4), featherweights