Aaron Pico entered Madison Square Garden looking to join George Foreman and Evander Holyfield as highly touted combat sport athletes who would get their first professional victory in the world’s most famous arena.
That did not happen.
Unheralded Zach Freeman took care of business in under 30 seconds against MMA’s most hyped prospect to date.
Pico wasted little time getting to the center of the cage, and immediately got rocked by a right uppercut from the 8-2 part-time fighter. Freeman jumped on a guillotine and switched it up to a D’arce choke. Pico was forced to tap just 0:24 into his MMA debut.
#BellatorNYC images via Dave Mandel: Zach Freeman def. Aaron Pico via Submission (D'Arce Choke) R1, 0:24 https://t.co/GYAHBJ3zp02017-6-25 03:15:05
Call him The Spoiler! Zach Freeman knocks off Aaron Pico in 24 seconds. #BellatorNYC (@allelbows) https://t.co/3qEEumP0G22017-6-25 03:18:08
Shaheen Al-Shatti @shaunalshatti
So, yeah, maybe in retrospect it was a bad idea to book your blue-chip prospect against a legit vet who was 8-2.2017-6-25 03:06:11
Pico seemingly went out as he was tapping.
The fight was pure MMA. A sport so unforgiving to its prospects continues to show that one must come up through the ranks, and no one will be given anything. Pico found out the hard way.
The silver lining is that Pico got a fight under his belt. The performance does not take away from his skill set. He’s still a super-talented young man with a long and bright future ahead of him. However, the hype surrounding him will undoubtedly take a hit following the 24-second loss.
Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani
Pico is just 20. Many greats lose early, but very few lose on a stage like this after so much buzz.2017-6-25 03:08:43
E. Spencer Kyte @spencerkyte
Far from the end of the world for Pico, obviously, but that's brutal for Bellator.2017-6-25 03:10:00
Freeman, now fresh off his spotlight-stealing moment, will have a little anticipation for his next outing. The quick victory which moved him to 9-2 overall as a fighter puts him right in the mix in Bellator’s lightweight division.
The result may not be what Bellator wanted out of their much-ballyhooed prospect, but it will have fans talking at the watercooler. Freeman shocked the MMA universe and gives the “next big thing” an 0-1 record to begin his career.