Search icon


25th Jun 2017

Arguably the most hyped prospect ever’s debut ends in absolute disaster

Blink and you'll miss it

Ben Kiely

It felt like we were waiting for an age for Aaron Pico’s MMA debut, but maybe we weren’t waiting long enough.

In hindsight, Bellator’s matchmakers made a huge mistake booking Aaron Pico’s promotional/professional debut.

At 18 years of age, 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, the man who trainer Bob Cook famously labelled “the greatest MMA prospect he’s ever seen” finally had his first fight on the Bellator 180 in New York. His opponent, 8-2 Zach Freeman entered into this fight off the back of an RFA title fight loss to Thiago Moises, and he was fully focused on derailing Pico’s hype train.

Just 24-seconds into the bout, it was over as Pico succumbed to a d’Arce choke after being dazed by his vastly more experienced opponent. The 20-year-old charged towards his adversary from the get-go but immediately ate a nasty knew. The second time he tried to engage, Pico ate a wicked uppercut and fell right into the choke.

When he came back for more, he was handed a knuckle-sandwich to the kisser which rocked him and from there he pretty much fell into the choke. Pico ate a wicked uppercut which Freeman finished with relative ease.