Bellator 186: Zach Freeman Is No Fluke

Bellator MMA Zach Freeman
Credit: Dave Mandel/

Bellator MMA returns this Friday, holding one of its biggest cards of the year at Penn State, with Bellator 186: Bader vs. Vassell. Along for the ride? Zach Freeman, the man who stopped hot prospect Aron Pico in his tracks.

Most MMA fans are now familiar with Zach Freeman, the man who shocked the world at Madison Square Garden in just 24 seconds at Bellator NYC this past June. What most people don’t know is Freeman has been working harder than ever to prove that his victory over Pico was no fluke.

So now, just a little over four months removed from the MSG upset win over Pico, the man known as ‘The Altar Boy’ gets his chance to show everyone that he is a legit fighter, and that his submission over Pico wasn’t a freak accident.

Cageside Press recently caught up with Freeman to talk about how things have changed for him since his big win, what he expects from his opponent at Bellator 186, and more.

Freeman, who has been competing in mixed martial arts since 2011, won his first seven fights and was working his way up the Regional circuit in Missouri. Yet in just 24 seconds he changed his life forever.

We asked Freeman if things had been different since his life changing win at MSG. “They definitely have been,” Freeman said. “I just try and stay humble, in the grand scheme, nothing has really changed. I’ve been a fighter for a long time and I’m going to keep fighting.”

With a record of 9-2, the ‘Altar Boy’ is no push over, but his opponent on November 3rd, Saad Awad is a former Bellator tournament champion and he is looking to end the Freeman hype.

“I’m expecting the very best Saad [Awad] on November 3rd,” said Freeman. “And he should be expecting the very best ‘Altar Boy’ too.”

Much was made of the fact that Freeman was the only fighter with a day job at the Bellator NYC press conference. It’s a surprise to find out that the ‘Altar Boy’ still holds down a 9 to 5 a while training full time.

How does Freeman juggle work and training?

“Balancing work and training is difficult, but its something that I’ve always done, said Freeman.” The ‘Altar Boy’ added “Camp has been great, its all coming together at the right time.”

Sometimes with success comes unwarranted criticisms; such is the case with Freeman. Many have said that Freeman got lucky against Pico, and it was more of Pico choking than Freeman wining. To that the ‘Altar Boy’ says, “The biggest thing to me is I just want to prove to everyone that my win against Pico wasn’t a fluke and I am a real fighter. I’ve been fighting for a long time, I still have a lot to prove and I continue to get better with the help of all the great people around me.”

Freeman gets his chance to prove to the world that he is a serious contender in the stacked Bellator lightweight division on November 3, at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pennsylvania.