This past Saturday at Bellator 131, Bellator MMA announced that they had signed a long-term deal with 18-year-old phenom Aaron Pico. This is truly a great move for Bellator as Pico might just be one of the best prospects in the sport today.

Although Pico is currently focused on a run at Olympic Gold in 2016, his signing is a game-changer for Bellator and the sport alike. Pico has yet to even begin him MMA career, but Scott Coker and his team at Bellator had the foresight to sign him now.

All the signs of greatness are there with Pico; he is a proven world class wrestler, he is a European pankration champion and a junior Golden Gloves nation champion. While all of those titles are great, what is really impressive about this young man is his drive. Unlike other child prodigies, Pico has always made the decisions about what he wants to pursue and how he wants to do it. His parents are supportive, but not overbearing or overwhelming.

There is a lot of hype surrounding him right now and rightfully so; Pico is a unique talent. But as we have seen time and time again, hype doesn’t mean anything once that cage door closes. Mixed martial arts is a sport where anything can happen and you can be sure that all this attention has put a huge target on the back of Pico.

Being able to live up to the hype is something few athletes have been able to do. All of the attention, all of the pressure and all of the expectations become too much to handle for most. Being under the microscope is a tough place to be especially for someone who is just now old enough to vote.

But because of how he is wired, expect Pico to be the exception not the rule; expect Pico to be great. There is always a possibility of a young highly touted athlete flaming out, but that won’t be Pico. If he can stay on the path he is currently on, it’s not out of the question to believe that by the time he is 25, Pico will be an Olympic gold medalist and an MMA world champion.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report,, and RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.

  • Phil Key

    It would be nice to know in what weight class Pico competes. Thanks