At Bellator 286 in Long Beach, CA on Saturday, third ranked featherweight Aaron Pico faced off against seventh ranked Jeremy Kennedy.
Pico was one of the most highly rated amateur wrestlers in California history, who skipped college wrestling after going undefeated and winning a state championship in high school. He went on to become a junior national champion, win gold in the cadet world championships, and place in the junior world championships twice before going to the Olympic team trials where he came second, just missing out on being an Olympian.
Early in his wrestling career he signed a prospect deal with Bellator and thus has competed there his entire career. Still only 26, Pico is one of the most highly touted prospects in Bellator history, having signed his prospect deal with them immediately after graduating high school.
Jeremy Kennedy, for his part, is a veteran whose primary arts are boxing and BJJ. He has fought in the UFC, PFL, and now Bellator over a long and successful career. Both men’s last loss came to Adam Borics, who was to fight Patricio Pitbull for the featherweight belt, also on Bellator 286.
Saturday’s fight was a highly anticipated one — but it did not go according to plan.
Pico came out and got to pressuring right away while pumping out his jab. A big one-two seemed to rock Kennedy but Pico ducked into the clinch, letting Kennedy recover. Soon after, Kennedy shot a takedown and shucked his way to Pico’s back while standing. He held onto his body lock in that position while pushing Pico against the fence and landing short knees. The Californian pro-Pico crowd booed. It soon began to seem like Pico’s shoulder had popped out as he was trying to pop it back in as he was tapping it while talking to his corner and not doing much of what he would usually do to escape the clinch position. Kennedy was able to take advantage, despite seemingly not knowing about the shoulder, as he got Pico down, took the back, and remained offensive until the end of the round.
In the corner after round one Pico’s coach Brandon Gibson attempted to pop the shoulder back in as Aaron Pico remained stoic through the pain. His shoulder did not seem fully healed and the doctor came over to look at him. After a lengthy deliberation between the referee, the doctor, and Pico, who insisted that he could fight, the referee was forced to wave the contest off based on the doctor’s recommendation. Pico, who came in as a ten-to-one favorite, lost to Jeremy Kennedy by doctor’s stoppage.
Official Result: Jeremy Kennedy def. Aaron Pico by TKO (doctor’s stoppage), Round 1, 5:00