John de Jesus has Aaron Pico on his list.
Well before de Jesus ever stepped into the Bellator cage, he eyed a matchup with the rising featherweight. The two finally clash in a featured bout on the Bellator 252 main card on Saturday, Nov. 12.
Pico is well established under the promotional banner at 6-3. De Jesus was not impressed by Pico’s four-fight win streak back in 2018 and is certainly not fazed by Pico’s back-to-back wins this year.
“When he was on top of his game, knocking people out, he was on the top of my list,” de Jesus said.
“I never really believed into the hype. People like to hype people up who are not necessarily all that great… As far as the skills go, I’m not that impressed.”
John de Jesus puts stock in experience
De Jesus and Pico are currently surging in their careers. Pico’s professional debut in Bellator was tainted with first-round guillotine loss to Zach Freeman at Bellator NYC in June 2017.
The American rebounded with four-straight first-round TKO finishes. Pico dropped back-to-back defeats to Henry Corrales and Adam Borics.
He re-entered the win column back in January with a second-round knockout against Daniel Carey at Bellator 238. He most recently submitted Solo Hatley Jr. in the opening round at Bellator 242 this past July.
De Jesus is a 21 fight veteran at 13-8. The 30-year-old has fought plenty of competition, including four former and current UFC fighters.
De Jesus is currently on a run of his own with three consecutive wins.
He most recently made his Bellator debut back in August. De Jesus out pointed Vladyslav Parubchenko in a unanimous decision win at Bellator 244, ending a nine-fight win streak for the Ukrainian.
“I’ve been in there with the best, been in there a long time,” de Jesus said. “He’s not going to show me anything I haven’t seen before. He says he is going to make it a dirty, gritty fight, come on down man.”
On the feet
Pico is fresh off his first professional submission win, but built a reputation on his feet with five TKO finishes. De Jesus is a decorated striker in his own right. He received a lot of praise after landing a flying knee in the second round against Parubchenko during his Bellator debut.
De Jesus defeated five of his opponents via knockout/TKO, including two of his last three. The New York native expects Pico will opt to go to the ground, despite Pico’s proven success on the feet.
De Jesus saw a interview with Pico and is not buying his opponents intentions to stand.
“He said with this intense look in his face, ‘I’m going to elbow his eyeballs, punch his body, kick his legs,’ I almost thought he was flirting with me for a second. That’s exactly what I want you to do, but I doubt you are going to try and do that,” de Jesus said. “You are going to come find out what my jock strap smells like.”
Pico has de Jesus’ attention
At the age of 30, de Jesus is on one of the best stints of his career. He has high aspirations in Bellator’s division, which stem far beyond beating Pico.
He eyes Bellator gold and wants a bout with Adam Borics to take place along the way. De Jesus made a splash in the division with his win over Parubchenko back in August.
He showed he belongs under the Bellator lights. On Nov. 12, he is trying to prove he is here to stay.
“Pico is next and he has all my undivided attention,” de Jesus said. “I’m on my way to the strap, that’s what I want at the end of the day. So whoever gets me there the quickest, that’s who I want next.”
Connor Northrup once covered municipal meetings and promised himself never again. He is now combining his passion for Mixed Martial Arts and reporting all into one.