At Bellator 183 in San Jose, CA on Saturday, wrestling standout and top prospect Aaron Pico returned to action. The California native was stunned in his professional debut against Zach Freeman back at Bellator NYC in June, winding up rocked and choked out within a round.
That fight, contested at lightweight, was a rude welcome to professional mixed martial arts for Pico. Now, at Bellator 183, he opted to drop a weight class, making his featherweight debut against Justin Linn, who is moving up from bantamweight. With ten fights as a pro and a handful more as an amateur, “The Mortal Sinn” Linn had a decided advantage in experience. The question was, how would Pico bounce back from that devastating loss?
Linn was more than happy to play the role of heel in this one, walking out to the cage with a pair of middle fingers on display.
Off the opening bell and a touch of the gloves, Linn was quick to connect, but Aaron Pico was unphased by the punch, and moments later had Linn eating a number of body shots to the ribs while standing. Pico was looking much better in this, his second bout, and managed to back Linn up against the cage where he unloaded a flurry of strikes while Linn was forced to cover up. You could smell blood in the water, but Linn survived, and Pico, with the fight going to the ground, stayed strong on top and displayed his wrestling expertise. Heavy elbows followed, but Pico would eventually allow the fight back up. That set up a huge finish. Pico countered a Linn right hand with a huge left hook, knocking Justin Linn out cold.
With the win, Pico moved to 1-1 as a pro, on his twenty-first birthday no less, and silenced his critics.
Aaron Pico def. Justin Linn by knockout, Round 1, 3:45