At Friday's Beller's # 222 in New York, Aaron Pico suffered a second consecutive loss in the round of 16, this time with the courtesy of Adam Borics, in a fight that Pico had won the entire race before being completed.
Before his debut as an MMA two years ago, Pico (4-3 MMA, 4-3 BMMA) was presented as a generational talent. He was brutally finished in three of his seven fights, however, and now many questions surround his future. How should Bellator handle it in the future? Dave Doyle, Nolan King and Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie, are tackling this edition of "Triple Take".
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Dave Doyle: If Pico is a # 1 choice, it's time to sit on the bench once in a while.
In a way, Pico's struggles represented another chapter in the evolution of MMA as a sport. Pico was the main name of a large number of talented young talents, which Bellator's president, Scott Coker, has recruited in recent years.
The series of important signatures appeared as the equivalent of a football team that killed him at the session. If we want to follow this analogy, Pico, Wrestling World Champion and Golden Gloves, was the # 1 choice.
With this billing, the pressure and expectations associated with the label "not to be missed" appeared.
Add to that the fact that Pico clearly has high expectations for itself. He behaves like a professional, he wants only the toughest challenges of the cage and he has had the maturity to lead his game to a gym like Jackson-Wink MMA when he realized that he had to make adjustments after his defeat against Henry Corrales.
Sometimes, as a promoter, you have to roll the dice. Coker's success comes largely from his lack of fear of trying something. If it works, so much the better, otherwise you do not have to come back to it. Pico, on paper, seemed to have all the tools on hand and when he left, he was electrifying. So of course, Coker gave Pico the opportunity to keep his promise.
But if it's not for some devastating failures here and there, we'd say today that Pico exceeds everyone's expectations. But these failings have resulted in back-to-back eliminations against quality opponents.
The story is filled with examples of highly vaunted athletes who start slowly before realizing their potential. Coker was right to suggest at the Bellator 222 post-match press conference that Pico needed to take a step back and that we should not give it up.
Coker is known to have brought, uh, opponents to help build fighters. Pico may resist this road, but at this point in the game, it's time to rebuild.