At the tender the age of 18, Aaron Pico has already established himself as one of the world’s great young talents in the world of freestyle wrestling (he’s also hell on wheels in Greco-Roman and folkstyle). This year he placed second at the FILA Junior (20 and under) World Championships, and last year won gold at the FILA Cadet (18 and under) World Championships.
Intriguingly to MMA fans, Pico’s wrestling success accompanies major age-group accomplishments both in boxing and in Pankration, as well as a vocal interest in a future as a prize fighter. This January, MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer reported on the incredible buzz Pico was generating about his potential in MMA. Pico, now barely old enough to vote, has pledged his talents to Bellator, signing with the world’s number-two MMA promotion, and its president, Scott Coker.
Bellator announced Saturday evening they have signed blue-chip amateur wrestling and potential mixed martial arts prospect Aaron Pico to a “long-term contract.”
“When it comes to any big decision I make, I sit down with my family, my management team at Zinkin and the people that are around me that I trust,” Pico said. “We wanted an opportunity to achieve my dreams in the 2016 Olympics and transition into MMA, and when we sat down with Bellator, Viacom and Scott Coker, everything just sort of fell into place and I couldn’t be happier to be here and be a part of the Bellator family.”
This deal appears fairly unprecedented, as Pico seemingly has no plans to debut in MMA until after he completes his bid to make the 2016 Olympic team. Making this situation even more unusual is the fact that Pico is still something of a prospect in the world of international wrestling. While he is probably the best 143 pound wrestler at his age in the world and probably one the USA’s overall top five freestylers at 65 kg, he hasn’t seen a massive amount of Senior-level competition, and he still faces a tough road to even make it to the Rio Games. After the 2016 Olympic Trials, Pico will only be 19 years old, and still in the infancy of his wrestling career, with no guarantee of immediately switching to cage fighting.
Undeniably, however, Pico is a once in a generation talent, and the rush to sign him is understandable. The young Californian already has wins over some extremely high-level wrestling competition, and his accolades in other combat sports probably make him history’s most interesting MMA prospect to never have actually fought a a mixed martial artist.
Bloody Elbow will have more on Pico later this week.
About the author