Aaron Pico’s start in MMA wasn’t what many expected.
The 20-year-old decorated wrestler and national junior Golden Gloves champion had his first professional MMA fight two weeks ago against Zach Freeman on the pay-per-view card of Bellator NYC, which took place in Madison Square Garden. The lightweight bout didn’t last long, as Freeman wobbled Pico with an uppercut and then stopped him with choke all in 24 seconds. The outcome of the fight sparked the conversation of whether or not Bellator had made a mistake matching up one of their brightness prospect against a 10-fight veteran who’s a former title challenger at RFA – an established MMA promotion.
But contrary to what many believe, UFC light heavyweight champion and Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier says Bellator didn’t make a mistake matching up Pico with the experienced Freeman.
“I dont believe it was a mistake,” Cormier told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I believe he was ready for it because I believe that he’s a rare, special talent.”
Despite the unsuccessful start in MMA, Cormier – who has a similar background to Pico and knows a thing or two about reaching the top of MMA – is confident the loss won’t hurt Pico in his career as a professional fighter, and believes Pico will become one of the greatest in the game.
“I believe that his story is far from written,” Cormier explained. “You got to remember that the greatest fighters of all time have lost: Anderson Silva has losses and people call him the greatest of all time, Chuck Liddell has losses, Georges St-Pierre has losses. So it’s not like Aaron Pico’s story is written, Aaron Pico’s story is just beginning. You know, he told a chance, and look, man, not everybody is Conor Mcgregor, not everybody shoots big and hits every single time. Aaron Pico shot for the stars and it didn't work out in the first fight, but it’s only the first fight. Aaron Pico is still going to be a world champ and he's still going to be one of the greatest fighters to ever put on a pair of gloves. So no mistake, I believe that the team made the right choice and he’ll be fine.”