Triple Take: How to handle Aaron Pico after TKO loss at Bellator 222?

At Friday’s Bellator 222 in New York, Aaron Pico suffered a second consecutive knockout loss, this time courtesy of Adam Borics in a fight that Pico was winning the whole way before being finished.

Prior to his MMA debut two years ago, Pico (4-3 MMA, 4-3 BMMA) was touted as a generational talent. He’s been brutally finished in three of his seven fights, though, and now a bevy of questions surround his future. How should Bellator handle him going forward? MMA Junkie’s Dave Doyle, Nolan King and Mike Bohn discuss in this edition of “Triple Take.”

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Dave Doyle: If Pico’s like a No. 1 overall draft pick, then it’s time to sit on the bench awhile

In a way, Pico’s struggles have represented another chapter in the evolution of MMA as a sport. Pico was the leading name among a whole slew of great young, blue-chip talent Bellator president Scott Coker has signed over the past several years.

The string of big-time signings came off as something equivalent to a football team killing it at the draft. If we’re going to roll with this analogy, Pico, a world wrestling champion and Golden Gloves ace, was the No. 1 pick.

With that billing has come the pressure and expectations that go with being labeled “can’t miss.”

Add to that the fact Pico clearly has high expectations for himself. He conducts himself like a professional, he wants nothing but the toughest challenges in the cage, and he had the maturity to take his game to a gym like Jackson-Wink MMA when he realized he needed to make adjustments after his loss to Henry Corrales.

Sometimes, as a promoter, you have to roll the dice. Coker’s success in large part comes from being unafraid to give something a try. If it works, great, if not, you don’t have to go back to it. Pico, on paper, looked like he has all the tools, and when he’s on, he’s been electrifying. So of course Coker gave Pico the opportunity to live up to his promise.

But if not for a couple devastating lapses here and there, we’d be talking today about how Pico is exceeding everyone’s expectations. But those lapses ended in back-to-back knockouts against quality opponents.

History is filled with examples of highly touted athletes getting off to slow starts before they live up to their potential. Coker was right to suggest at the Bellator 222 post-fight news conference both that Pico needs to take a step backwards and that we shouldn’t give up on him.

Coker’s known for bringing in, umm, opponents to help build fighters up. Pico might resist going that route, but at this stage of the game, it’s time for a rebuild.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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