“This is someone in a different world,” Bob Cook said of American wrestling phenom, Aaron Pico. Cook, who has trained and managed some of MMA’s best fighters like B.J. Penn, Cain Velasquez, Frank Shamrock and others at American Kickboxing Academy, said Pico is the greatest MMA prospect he’s seen.
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
It may be a little early to be predicting things in 2020; but if American Kickboxing Academy’s Crazy Bob Cook talks about a 17-year-old prospect who will change MMA, then it’s a good idea to listen.
MMAFighting’s Dave Meltzer reported on this young athlete named Aaron Pico.
Aaron Pico won the FILA Cadet freestyle wrestling world championship in 2013, as well as three FILA national championships throughout the year. He recently made his debut at the Senior level, defeating Russian Alibeggadzhi Emeev by a technical fall (with a score of 8-0).
But it’s not just his wrestling abilities that has MMA coaches and managers alike chomping at the bit: Pico is an accomplished boxer.
Beginning his wrestling at the age of four and boxing at the age of ten, Pico has won the PAL national championship, the Upstanding Boxer Award and a Junior Golden Gloves championships. Not to mention he won the European Pankration championship in the Ukraine.
His skills are so refined at such a young age that Zinkin Entertainment has signed a management contract with Pico for mixed martial arts, a sport in which Pico will not expect to begin competing until after the 2020 Olympic games.
Pico’s intentions are to compete in the 2016 Olympics, at the age of 19, and once more at the 2020 Olympics before he considers professional fighting. His commitment to competing on the international stage has caused him to complete high school online while traveling to other countries and training with some of the world’s best.
“As far as MMA goes, I definitely want to be an MMA fighter and a UFC champion one day,” Pico told MMA Fighting. “I’m wrestling through 2020. I’ll be 23 years old. That’s still young for MMA.
“To me, a complete fighter is a world champion wrestler and a world champion boxer, that’s a complete fighter. I was sparring with top-level boxers and seeing their speed. We definitely have guys in UFC that were complete wrestlers, but I haven’t seen a complete boxer in MMA and it takes time to develop. I was fortunate because from 10 to 13, all I did was box. I don’t think I’ll lose those skills because I’m going to be constantly boxing. When the time is right to compete, I’ll be ready to go. UFC, boxing and wrestling, but I’ve got to keep training and staying focused.”
And by the time Pico hangs up his wrestling shoes for MMA gloves, there’s a good chance the world may already know him as an Olympic wrestling champion; but that’s the tip of the iceberg.
“I’m better as a fighter than a wrestler,” he said. MMA fighters in 2020, you’ve been warned.
Image cred: Tony Rotundo, warriors.comTags: AKA, american kickboxing academy, bob cook, crazy bob cook, mma, MMA NEWS, Olympic Wrestling, ufc, wrestling