Half Moon Bay is a sleepy coastal town, the kind you would dream of retiring to. It has two types of residents: older people indulging in crime novels, and high school students dealing with teen angst. When you think of Half Moon Bay, rarely does the concept of mixed martial artists come to mind. Meet Adam Piccolotti, who was raised here in this town best known for its surf, craft beer, and tide pools.
Piccolotti talked to me in the middle of his hometown gym, Raul Castillo Martial Arts Academy, which is hidden behind some storefronts off the main drag in a garage-like facility that you could easily pass up if you didn’t know what it was. Piccolotti, who is fighting for the second time on national television soon, is looking to make the most of his new found celebrity after his last bout, a gif-worthy affair in which he applied a rear naked choke to Mario Soto that forced blood to ooze out of Soto’s skull like a leaky faucet.
“…It was something unique [for] me. I have never been in the spotlight that much and to have it [thrown] around the internet having people comment on it, talking about it, it was really special.” said Piccolotti who talked about becoming a viral video sensation.
That choke was so brutal, you actually had trouble believing it happened until you saw the video. It made its way through all major social media outlets, World Star Hip Hop and just about any site who thought they could wring another click out of this sensationally brutal event. Suddenly, this anonymous fighter who has been grinding along trying to get a shot at the big time became known for one fight and a once in a lifetime finish. Lost in the horror show is the fact the technique used to achieve it was sublime.
For Piccolotti, it is a welcome change from his days of fighting in Indian casinos in rural towns. He recalled his first fight to me, in which he thought he was taking on an opponent who was also making his debut. He was mistaken. The fighter was 2-1. Though it may not seem like a lot, it means the guy was not dealing with first time jitters and knew what to expect. He wasn’t expecting what he got though. Piccolotti won the fight. He has been addicted to the sport ever since.
Piccolotti racked up an undefeated record after that first fight, compiling an unblemished record since he turned pro with San Francisco upstart MMA promotion, Dragonhouse MMA. He is 7-0 and stars in a viral video.
Now Piccolotti finds himself sandwiched on a Bellator main card between perennial Top 15 light heavyweights Phil Davis and “King” Mo Lawal and a number one contender match for the lightweight title between former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler and Josh Thomson. For Bellator, this card features some of the promotion’s biggest fighters. To feature Piccolotti in between the two important bouts on television implies the higher-ups within the promotion truly believe in the 27-year-old fighter.
Piccolotti, who trains at the increasingly popular American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, still trains with his coach Raul Castillo in Half Moon Bay. Yet camp doesn’t end for in either of those places, as he also travels to San Francisco to work with Kenya Prach, a Mauy Thai instructor who has a gym in the Potrero Hill district. He has also been working with a strength and conditioning coach, Chris Shaw, in Pacifica. Every day during this season’s camp, Piccolotti spends about 2 1/2 to 3 hours in his car, because he thinks that’s what it will take to win.
His upcoming opponent is Jordan Parsons, who is coming off a hotly debated split decision loss to college wrestling standout Bubba Jenkins. Piccolotti wants to win and grow, but he hasn’t forgotten where he came from. “I owe a lot of my success to Half Moon Bay. It’s a small-town, there is not a lot of people…at the same time, the kids out here are grown tough, and the wrestling program has always been killer.”
Adam Piccolotti takes on Jordan Parson on May 14th at the SAP Center in San Jose, available worldwide, and in the US on Spike TV.