Now believe the Pico hype

Sunday, September 24, 2017

It is extraordinarily unusual for a first-time fighter to debut on a pay per view television broadcast. The last time it happened in the UFC was boxer James Toney in 2010; it didn’t end well for him. Wrestling and combat sports prodigy Aaron Pico made his MMA debut on the main card of Bellator NYC on June 24, at Madison Square Garden.

“Simply put, Aaron has all the makings of MMA’s next great superstar,” said  Bellator president Scott Coker beforehand. “To have him here at Bellator is something special.”

Pico got tapped out in 24 seconds by the unheralded Zach Freeman. However, Pico did what champions do, and that is keep training. Then he was matched up with Justin ‘The Mortal Sinn’ Linn at Bellator 183 on Saturday night.

Linn’s ring name is better than his immediate record. In the first four years of his career, Linn earned an admirable 7-1 record. However, he fought just once each in 2015 and 2016, losing both. Saturday night he ended up on the wrong side of the highlight reel.

That might be a KO of the Year contender.

“First of all, hats off to Justin,” said Pico afterward. “He’s a great competitor and I knew it was going to be a tough fight. It feels good fighting at 145-pounds. This is my natural weight and it felt great. I’m going to have to watch the replay of this fight because I’m not even sure how I hit him, it was just very instinctual. I always knew that I had very powerful hands and I’m not being cocky, I’m just confident because I spar with some of the best boxers in the world over at Team Bodyshop in Long Beach. The key to this fight was just relaxing because I knew that as long as I was relaxed in there, my skillset was going to show.”