At some point on Saturday night the Bellator 154 proceedings will hit a somber note, and tribute will be paid to the one whose life was tragically taken before he could make it to San Jose.
When that moment arrives, Adam Piccolotti will have to find a way to focus on the task at hand. And when conflicting emotions take hold, Piccolotti will honor fallen foe Jordan Parsons will honor fallen foe Jordan Parsons the best way he knows how: By performing as if the man himself was standing across from him in the cage.
“I’m trying to mentally prepare for it now,” said Piccolotti, who faces short-notice opponent Ray Wood in a main card bout at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday. “I’m sure in the moment it’s going to be a whole other world of emotion. I’m going to do my best to try turn that into as much motivation as possible, to stay focused on my job at hand as possible and to pay my respects and just focus on what I need to focus on. And show the man the respect that he deserves.”
A few weeks back, Bellator 154 was the next career step for a pair of promising prospects. Piccolotti was only beginning to make a name for himself, with an unblemished record that included three straight wins under the Bellator MMA banner. Parsons’ learning curve was more advanced, as he was coming off a split-decision loss to the highly-touted Bubba Jenkins last November. If Piccolotti could get by the Blackzilians talent, it would speak volumes about his future in the California-based promotion.
Everything changed in the early morning hours on Sunday, May 1 when Parsons was hospitalized after being seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident in Delray Beach, Fla. Doctors amputated his leg in attempt to save his life, but Parsons fell into a coma and eventually passed away, his life over at just 25 years old.
Piccolotti never met Parsons, yet he was profoundly affected by his death. Even the comfort of training hasn’t provided refuge from thoughts of the tragedy that shook the MMA community.
“I’ve definitely been having some emotions and some thoughts of the man even during training,” Piccolotti said. “Generally when I go to jiu-jitsu and martial arts it was a place to kind of forget about the outside world, but this whole tragedy is something that’s definitely been affecting me emotionally. I’m an emotional guy as it is, so hearing something as tragic as this has been crossing my mind throughout everyday life and within my training.”
Initially, Piccolotti thought he wouldn’t remain on the Bellator 154 card following Parson’s death. But once the opportunity to face a short-notice foe came to fruition, Piccolotti knew he had to take it.
“I was emotionally affected. It kind of put me in a weird place. On the same note, I’ve got a family to provide for, I’ve got a career that I’m trying to build that I’ve worked my whole life toward,” he said. “It’s been a little while since I fought in December. I’m 27 years old so I”m working on building my career as much as possible and fighting as often as possible, especially in my hometown. It’s something that’s important to me. I was definitely focused on trying to stay on the card.”
When Piccolotti was young, his mother won a battle with breast cancer, but outside of that, he admits that tragedy has largely bypassed him since then. Recent events have taught him to appreciate even some of the less enjoyable aspects of a professional fighting career. Being alive to experience all of it — the good and the bad — is a gift.
“That’s one thing that has crossed my mind throughout my training is I need to appreciate this grind, I need to appreciate these hard times that I’m able to put myself through. In the past it’s been so much like I had anger or just been aggressive during weight cuts or hard training sessions,” he said. “But now it gives me a different perspective and a different emotional state to appreciate those hard times and value them.”