Bellator NYC: Is Aaron Pico Really That Great? (Editorial)

Honestly, can Aaron Pico even come close to living up to the hype?

In short, yes, yes he can.

Pico, who doesn’t turn 21 years old until September, will make his MMA debut Saturday night as the opening bout of Bellator NYC: Sonnen vs. Silva against Zach Freeman.

The list of accomplishments for Pico already are as lengthy as anyone fighting on the card in terms of all sports accomplishments. He’s won gold at the Cadet World Championships in freestyle wrestling, while also claiming silver and bronze at the Junior World Championships.

When he was just a high school sophomore in 2013, Pico defeated Russian Alibeggadzhi Emeev and scored multiple medals at senior-level events.

He followed that up in 2016 by qualifying for the Olympic trials before falling to Frank Molinaro. He earned wins over Jason Ness, Jordan Oliver and Reece Humphrey during the tournament. Ness, Oliver and Molinaro have NCAA Div. I championships to their credit, while Humphrey was a runner-up.

But Pico isn’t just a wrestler – not even close.

He won the national PAL championship in 2008 and was a Golden Gloves winner a year later. He became a national champion in pankration in ’08 and won the golden cup European pankration title two years later.

In 2014, Nike and Bellator MMA signed Pico to long-term deals and many have already called him the greatest MMA prospect since Jon Jones.

So, with an extensive and accomplished background in wrestling, boxing and pankration, can Aaron Pico deliver on the big stage?

Just tune in Saturday night and you are sure to find out.