Aaron Pico warns young fighters against rushing their careers: ‘Not all of us can be like Jon Jones’

    Aaron Pico learned the hard way that success doesn’t always come fast.

    As one of the most highly touted prospects in MMA, Pico (7-3 MMA, 7-3 BMMA) entered the sport as an accomplished wrestler that was expected to tear through competition right off the bat.

    But, unfortunately for Pico, his pro debut delivered a rude awakening when he was submitted in just 24 seconds by Zach Freeman at Bellator 180. However, he was quickly able to prove doubters wrong when he scored four straight first-round finishes.

    That earned Pico a big step up in competition against Henry Corrales at Bellator 214, but Pico was knocked out in the first round. That defeat was followed by another knockout loss to Adam Borics, which had doubters once again questioning whether Pico could make it to the top. But the 24-year-old was able to turn things around and is currently riding a three-fight winning streak, all via finish.

    Through the peaks and valleys of his young career, the most important takeaway Pico has gained from his experiences is that you don’t need to have a fast rise to succeed in this sport.

    “I think the biggest thing I would tell young kids is just take your time and don’t try to rush anything,” Pico told MMA Junkie. “Surround yourself with a good team and there’s no need to rush, especially in MMA. Not all of us can be like Jon Jones and fight at 22, 23 years old and fight Vitor (Belfort). If there’s an opportunity that presents itself, yeah take it, but don’t be in such a rush to, ‘I gotta do this, I gotta do this.’ Just take it one fight at a time and put on good performances, focus on your training, and I think you’ll get to where you need to be.

    “But if I could give one advice, just there’s no need to rush. There’s no need to be a world champion at 22. We’re not all blessed like Jon Jones at 23 years old and have the belt. It’s taken a lot of the greats some time to get the belt and another thing is, everybody’s path is different. Don’t be like ‘I need to be like this guy’ because as soon as you start comparing yourself to people, you start to drive yourself nuts.”

    Pico recently made the move to Jackson Wink MMA and has found a new home at Albuquerque, N.M., training under the tutelage of Greg Jackson. The featherweight prospect, who won the national Junior Golden Gloves tournament in 2009, also hopes to box professionally at a later point in his career.

    But for now, he’s focusing on his MMA career and taking things at his own pace.

    This was originally published on

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