Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

MMA: Impressive win for Pico

In interviews this week before his fight on Friday against Adli Edwards, Albuquerque MMA featherweight Aaron Pico talked about how he’s combined the two basic elements of his sport: striking and the ground game.

“I think I have the best combinations into a takedown in the world,” he said. “My combos straight into a shot are really, really deadly, because the thing is that (his strikes) can land and you can be knocked out and I can take you down.”

Friday, Edwards got the full brunt of Pico’s violent versatility. Dominating from start to finish, landing brutal shots to the head and body and scoring takedowns almost at will, Pico defeated Edwards by third-round TKO on a Bellator card in San Jose, California.

The end came just 55 seconds into the third, as Edwards, who somehow had survived Pico’s unrelenting onslaught in rounds one and two, could take no more.

Pico (10-3) extends his winning streak to six fights. Edwards, who accepted the fight on 13 days notice and was fighting at the Bellator level for the first time, is 9-2.

“There’s no magic pill or recipe or anything,” Pico said, crediting striking coach Brandon Gibson for the work put in at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink MMA. “I’m just in the gym all the time.”

Pico expressed great respect for Edwards, who accepted the fight against Pico — after Jeremy Kennedy, the original opponent, withdrew with an orbital fracture — when other fighters turned it down.

“I hope (Bellator) takes care of that guy, gives him four or five fights,” Pico said. “… I’m so thankful, my family’s thankful, because I wouldn’t have had a paycheck.

“I would have just been a whole (training) camp with no money. So I have the utmost respect for him because you know what, I got my paycheck tonight.”

Pico and Edwards are both featherweights (145 pounds), but Friday’s fight was contested at a “catch weight” of 150 because Edwards, having accepted the fight after defeating Josh Harvey on an XMMA card on April 2, would have been hard pressed to get back down to the featherweight limit so quickly.

OBSTACLE REMOVED: Pico’s stated goal is the Bellator featherweight title, but there was a problem. AJ McKee, who defended that title in Friday’s main event against Brazil’s Patricio Pitbull, is a close friend of Pico’s from their days training together in California.

Pico has said in the past, and said again this week, that he’s reluctant to fight his friend.

Well, guess what. McKee is no longer the champion, having lost to Pitbull (real name Patricio Freire) by unanimous decision on Friday in a reversal of their first fight.

Pico, the No. 4 challengers might not be first in line. But Pico’s impressive performance against Edwards, coupled with McKee’s loss, definitely changes the picture.

After the fight, McKee said he wants a rematch with Pitbull — but at the lightweight limit of 155 pounds. Pitbull, in response, said he has no interest in moving up in weight.

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