Bellator is in an interesting position with Aaron Pico, one of the promotions youngest and brightest stars.
Pico burst on to the scene in 2017 at the age of 20, and ever since he was first announced by Bellator, he has been pushed as the future of the featherweight division. He was previewed as a young up and comer who already possessed skills and power that veteran martial artists could only dream of having.
It was very clear that Bellator felt like they had a superstar on their hands.
A spoiled debut
Pico’s debut didn’t go as planned, however, as it was spoiled by Zach Freeman, a man who was brought into Bellator to seemingly be a punching bag for Pico to showcase his skills in his debut. Freeman had none of it and forced Pico to tap via guillotine choke.
This was a huge blow to Pico and Bellator, as a debut loss is not what was supposed to happen for a potential poster child for a promotion that desperately needs a star.
A killing spree ensues
Aaron Pico would bounce back after his debut didn’t go his way, as he proceeded to win his next four fights, and these wins came via some vicious finishes:
In the span of one year, everyone forgot about Pico’s spoiled debut, as he obliterated four men in 365 days. He was never in danger in any of these fights, and his hype, especially after decimating veteran Leandro Higo, was through the roof.
Down to earth
Then, reality set in for a second. People started to question the way Pico was fighting. It was clear that he didn’t always respect his opponents. His hands were at his hips, he was developing habits that could be noticed through watching his highlights and people knew that if this were to be kept up, eventually he’d get caught. And boy, did he get caught.
Henry Corrales, a Bellator veteran, was able to recover from an Aaron Pico uppercut and deliver one of the more shocking knockouts of 2019.
This was a wake-up call for Pico obviously. He now had to attempt to bounce back from a loss that couldn’t be written off as “first time jitters” and make adjustments that Corrales exposed.
Unfortunately, this past weekend, Pico fell victim to his second straight lost:
Adam Borics is an undefeated Hungarian featherweight machine that put a stop to Pico via a flying knee and could now be looked at as the next big thing in the featherweight division.
What should Bellator do with Aaron Pico?
Aaron Pico now has to avoid a three-fight losing streak. It is unclear how long he plans to take off before fighting again, but Pico is now at Jackson Wink MMA, one of the highest regarded camps in all of mixed martial arts.
Bellator now has a decision to make. They could let Pico take some time off if he so desires, and eventually rebuild him back up with some competition that may not be up to par with Pico’s skill level, or they could throw him right back into the fire against a skilled veteran who would be no push-over.
We see that Bellator is currently taking the first route with Dillon Danis, so it will be interesting to see what they feel will be best for the young stud Pico. Pico has the skills it takes to be a world champ, we know this. It will depend on how he adjusts his game against future opponents that will tell if he will ever claim gold, whether it be in Bellator, UFC or any promotion.