Last weekend at Bellator's "Tito vs. Bonnar" event on Spike TV, it was revealed that an 18-year-old wrestling standout named Aaron Pico, styled by Bellator as "MMA's Greatest Prospect," had signed an exclusive contract with the Viacom-owned promotion.
Just who exactly is Aaron Pico and why should the MMA community be on notice?
Hyperbole aside, here are a few actual facts about Pico: The youngster is a former Junior Golden Gloves Champion and already has a FILA World Championship under his belt. He's currently attempting to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
The legal drinking age in Brazil is 18, but if Pico makes the cut, he'll be far too busy competing to enjoy one. Perhaps a little champagne if he takes the gold?
The Brazilian talks about his decision to sign with Bellator in this week's press release:
When it comes to any big decision I make, I sit down with my family, my management team at Zinkin and the people that are around me that I trust. We wanted an opportunity to achieve my dreams in the 2016 Olympics and transition into MMA, and when we sat down with Bellator, Viacom and Scott Coker, everything just sort of fell into place and I couldn’t be happier to be here and be a part of the Bellator family.
The key to Bellator MMA signing Pico is that he's clearly not going to be fighting for them any time soon and risk an injury that could derail his Olympic dreams. It's actually a decision that banks on his future. Bellator can tout that it has an Olympic medalist on its roster if he makes it all the way to the top.
Scott Coker elaborates:
Simply put, Aaron has all the makings of MMA's next great superstar, and to have him here at Bellator is something special. Aaron is someone we've been watching closely over the last few years, and after sitting down with Bob Cook and his team, getting a chance to meet Aaron, and hearing his long-term aspirations, the fit became very obvious.
It's now a waiting game to see if Bellator's decision pays dividends in the long run.