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Bellator’s Aaron Pico comes as close to Olympics as possible without qualifying

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Aaron Pico, who was announced as having signed with Bellator in late 2014 with the idea he would debut after making an attempt for the Olympic team in wrestling, came as close as could be without making it.

Pico went down to the wire in the 65 kilogram tournament final, losing the third match in a best-of-three series via criteria decision to former NCAA champion Frank Molinaro on Saturday.

Pico, who is 19, was attempting to become the first teenager to make the U.S. freestyle Olympic team since Jimmie Jackson in 1976. He had split the first two matches in the best-of-three finals with Molinaro. A four-point takedown with momentary back exposure in the first round was the difference in Molinaro getting his hand raised when the two tied 4-4 in the third match. Under international freestyle rules, in the case of a tie, the wrestler who had the highest scoring move during the match is the first tie breaking criterion.

Pico was the aggressor in all three matches, but Molinaro countered effectively, particularly scoring on a Pico takedown attempt in the second match that was the difference. Neither Pico nor Molinaro were favored to reach the finals in what was considered the most loaded weight class in the tournament.

Molinaro had an amazing tournament, beating two of the best U.S. college wrestlers of the past decade, former Hodge Trophy winners Brent Metcalf and Logan Steiber, before facing Pico in the finals in a loaded division.

Molinaro first beat tournament favorite and multi-time national team member Brent Metcalf via criteria decision after the two went to a 3-3 score. He followed beating four-time NCAA champion Steiber, considered the best wrestler in Ohio State University history, due to having the highest scoring move after the two finished at 5-5 in their semifinal match.

Pico had one of ….View full article

Source:: mma fighting