Bellator MMA has finalized the pay-per-view lineup for it’s upcoming Madison Square Garden debut in June, and it will showcase one of the brightest young prospects in the sport.
The fifth — and final — Bellator: NYC main card fight will feature 20-year-old Aaron Pico making his MMA debut against Zach Freeman (8-2) in a lightweight bout, MMA Fighting has learned.
Pico, a former FILA Cadet (17-and-under) world and national champion wrestler, as well as a former Golden Gloves amateur boxing champion, signed with the promotion in November 2014.
He delayed his MMA debut to try out for the 2016 United States Olympic freestyle wrestling team last year, and while Pico fell just short of doing so, he attempted to become the first teenager to earn a spot on the team in 40 years.
Members of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., where Pico trains, have been raving about Pico since he began training in MMA. Bellator president Scott Coker also sung his praises after signing him two and a half years ago.
“Simply put, Aaron has all the makings of MMA’s next great superstar, and to have him here at Bellator is something special,” Coker stated in a press release. “Like many of us in the MMA community, Aaron is someone we’ve been watching closely over the last few years, and after sitting down with (AKA coach) Bob Cook and his team, getting a chance to meet Aaron, and hearing his long-term aspirations, the fit became very obvious.”
Freeman, who’ll also be making his Bellator debut, is coming off a unanimous decision loss last year to Thiago Moisés in an RFA lightweight title fight. Prior to that bout, “The Altar Boy” had won eight of his first nine professional fights.
Already recently announced for the Bellator: NYC pay-per-view was Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva, Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione, Douglas Lima vs. Lorenz Larkin for the welterweight title and Michael Chandler vs. Brent Primus for the lightweight belt.
The event, Bellator’s first in New York City, is set for June 24 at “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” The prelims, billed as Bellator 180, will air on Spike and feature Ryan Bader’s promotional debut against Muhammed Lawal.
Source:: mma fighting