Bellator held a press conference in Los Angeles to promote their stacked NYC card, but there were plenty of questions that couldn’t be answered by the fighters in attendance.
• No Wanderlei Silva leads to no Chael Sonnen
24 hours before the press conference, it was confirmed that Wanderlei Silva would not be appearing at the press conference. The ever enigmatic Chael Sonnen wasted no time responding to the news on Twitter, stating:
It was later confirmed that Sonnen would also not be participating after the news. While it was understandable considering that this was the second time that Silva would not appear to face Sonnen in person, it lead to a perplexing afternoon. After the fact that their first bout years ago broke down, and now Silva’s bizarre absence ahead of Bellator’s biggest event, a topic became whether the fight could be in jeopardy. While Silva may indeed be under the weather, another possibility is that “The Axe Murderer” is playing psychological games of his own.
Silva is not about to outdo Sonnen on the microphone, that has never been who he is. While there is clear disdain between the two, it is possible that Silva is attempting to frustrate Sonnen by not allowing him to speak to him in person before the fight. Considering that Chael’s penchant for getting under his opponents skin remains in tact after his absence from the sport, it’s certainly not out of the question that Silva may be seeking an edge of his own before the fight.
•Lorenz Larkin Continues to Rep his Hometown in Bellator
Newly signed welterweight Lorenz Larkin appeared before the media to discuss his title fight with Douglas Lima on the card. Earlier in the year, Larkin made headlines by making the jump to Bellator after being ranked in the top ten of the UFC and on a two-fight win-streak. Larkin stated:
“At the end of the day I want to feel like an asset wherever I’m at. At that point, I wasn’t. It wasn’t being made clear to me that I was and I made the decision to leave. I guess it’s a rare thing to be able to make the decision to leave, but that’s what it was.”
More so, Larkin spoke about his reputation for representing his home city of Riverside, CA. When asked about being a part of the city’s sports hall of fame, Larkin spoke eloquently that it was an enormous personal goal of his. He even went so far to say that it was special on a personal level that the championship was not, stating:
“This belt is really important, but [a place on the Riverside sports hall-of-fame.] is it right there.”
Larkin would go on to say that he felt that there was nothing about Lima that he had not seen before. While he is aware that Lima is more familiar fighting for the organization, he feels he is prepared for that Lima well bring to the table.
“I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a bunch of different styles in my career and his is not a style that I haven’t seen before or haven’t fought before. I’ve fought big guys, I’ve fought similar guys before, so there’s nothing he brings to the table where I’m like ‘Oh I haven’t seen this before.’ “
•Being a Regular 20 Year Old Just Isn’t for Aaron PicoEmbed from Getty Images
If fight fans haven’t seen Aaron Pico yet, it’s understandable. He is making his professional debut at Bellator’s New York City card at just 20 years old. Even more, he will be opening up the main card on pay-per-view. Of course, plenty of fans are right to ask why he gets such a high profile opportunity before even stepping into the cage as a professional. The reason: Pico is a highly qualified amateur wrestler. Pico won the national championship in freestyle, folkstyle, and Greco-Roman wrestling and made the finals of the 2016 Olympic qualifiers.
If that’s not enough, Pico has also competed as a Golden Glove boxer and internationally in pankration. Pico’s appearance at the press conference expressed a comfort beyond his years, in now way phased by the attention despite his age. Of course, he shouldn’t be. He’s competed internationally on large stages before and he doesn’t expect to be too phased by the Madison Square Garden crowd.
Finally, he’s content to be pursuing his dream at such a high level at a young age. If he was concerned about not being a normal 20 year old, it doesn’t show. He is living out the dream that he had for himself at 8 years old and worked his whole life for. The world will get introduced to Pico when he faces Zach Freeman as the opening fight of Bellator 180.
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