Aaron Pico Makes Debut at Bellator NYC
The full card for the Bellator NYC pay-per-view on June 24 is now set, as the final bout of the card was announced on the Bellator 178 broadcast.
Rounding out the already stacked card of the event, which will be Bellator’s debut at Madison Square Garden, will be the anticipated debut of Aaron Pico. Pico will take on Zach Freeman in a lightweight bout.
At the age of 20, Pico has already been one of the best amateur wrestlers in the world. He won a gold medal at the 2013 Cadet World Championships, where he competed in the 63kg weight class. Pico competed at the Junior World Championships twice, winning a silver at 65 kg and a bronze at 66 kg in 2014 and 2015, respectively. He is also a former Golden Gloves amateur boxing champion.
Pico had signed a contract with Bellator in 2014, but he delayed his debut in an attempt to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling team. He came up just short of the mark, narrowly missing out on becoming the first teenager to make the team in about 40 years.
Pico has already drawn comparisons to Jon Jones, with some in the MMA community calling him a prodigy and the next big thing in the sport. He trains at the American Kickboxing Academy.
"Simply put, Aaron has all the makings of MMA’s next great superstar, and to have him here at Bellator is something special," Bellator MMA President Scott Coker stated in a press release. "Like many of us in the MMA community, Aaron is someone we’ve been watching closely over the last few years, and after sitting down with [AKA coach] Bob Cook and his team, getting a chance to meet Aaron, and hearing his long-term aspirations, the fit became very obvious."
Pico’s opponent, Zach Freeman, will be making his Bellator debut. Freeman is currently 8-2, and he won his first seven bouts in a row. His most recent performance was a unanimous decision loss to Thiago Moises back on Sept. 30.
The bout with Pico and Freeman joins a Bellator pay-per-view card that will be headlined by Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva, Fedor Emelianenko’s first fight in the U.S. since 2011, and two Bellator title fights.