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24th Sep 2017

Arguably the most hyped prospect ever’s second fight was everything fans had hoped his debut would be


Ben Kiely

Aaron Pico

When Aaron Pico’s MMA debut ended in disaster, a lot of people were rubbing their hands together.

Bellator youngster Aaron Pico was famously labelled “the greatest MMA prospect I’ve ever seen” by trainer Bob Cook, but when he stepped inside the cage for the first time, it looked like his hype train might get derailed.

At 18, Pico had won a FILA national championship in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, a Junior Golden Gloves championship, signed a lucrative sponsorship deal with Nike and was snapped up by Bellator on a long-term contract.

Two years later he was making his promotional/professional debut on their first ever New York card against a vastly more experienced opponent. Zach Freeman, who was 8-2 and entering off the back of an RFA title fight loss to Thiago Moises, made sure Bellator’s hottest prospect was given a rough welcome party to the sport.

While being on the wrong side of a quick submission is a humiliating way to introduce yourself to the fight game, the beauty of that defeat was he took very little damage in it. So three months later, Pico was able to step back inside the cage and go again.

Pico’s sophomore bout was a more low-key affair against 7-3 Justin Linn on the Bellator 183 card. Just like his first fight, this one didn’t make it out of the opening round, but this time, we actually got to see some of Pico’s abilities as a fighter.

The 20-year-old came out like he had a point to prove, swinging with bad intentions from the get-go. Not interested in making this a grappling contest, Pico kept this fight standing until he found the coup the grace that put his opponent on the canvas.

The left hand found its mark on 3:45, and that’s all she wrote.