Bellator MMA announced during Saturday night’s Bellator 131 card that they have signed Aaron Pico to an exclusive contract.
Pico is a standout wrestler and Golden Gloves boxer, who currently trains out of the American Kickboxing Academy camp under Bob Cook. That gym also boasts UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier and others.
“It is a great feeling being a part of an organization doing big things,” Pico said. “I appreciate what they are doing for me and what I’m doing for them will be great.”
Pico is a former FILA national champion on the mat in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. He also won the Junior nationals for USA Wrestling and was named the Outstanding Wrestler in both the junior and cadet nationals. As a high school wrestler, he went 42-0 in California and won both the state and national championships.
“I am confident in my training,” he said. “We’ll get a plan together and make it happen. I am excited for a great future.”
While he has the ability to take fighters down at will, Pico admitted his style isn’t just that.
“I prefer to stay on my feet,” he said. “I want to knock people out on my feet. If I have to take them down, I will.”
In a previous interview with MMAFighting.com, Pico stated he plans to wrestle until 2020 then head into MMA full-time.
“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,” Pico said. “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.”
A release sent out by Bellator officials reiterated plans for Pico to train in wrestling through the 2016 Olympics. His deal is a long-term promotional contract with the company.
“Simply put, Aaron has all the makings of MMA’s next great superstar, and to have him here at Bellator is something special,” Bellator president Scott Coker said. “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 Bob Cook and his team, getting a chance to meet Aaron, and hearing his long-term aspirations, the fit became very obvious. I’m not only excited to see what Aaron is going to be able to do in our cage, but also watching him represent our country in 2016 at the Olympics.”