It is a rarity in the world of Mixed Martial Arts that an athlete can generate the hype that 18-year-old Aaron Pico has managed over the past few months.
The amateur wrestling and potential MMA prospect established himself as one of the rising talents in freestyle wrestling, along with his similarly outstanding accomplishments in boxing and Pankration. And now, he has committed himself to Scott Coker's newly restructured Bellator MMA.
While the signing of one of MMA's top prospects is an outstanding achievement for the promotion, Pico revealed that his main interest over the coming year is to qualify for the Olympic freestyle wrestling team at the 2016 Rio Games, which means he doesn't have an exact date set for his MMA debut.
"Right now, the main focus is on 2016 and making the Olympic team. We've worked really hard for this and I've got to take it one step at a time. After that, we will evaluate with the team. There is no exact date on when I'm going to step in the cage."
Bellator's decision to sign a young prospect such as Pico is certainly a surprising one, particularly since it appears he has no intention to kickstart his MMA career before he completes his bid for the 2016 Rio Games.
"That is a big thing for me - that they support my wrestling," Pico explained. "It means a lot to me and for them to allow me to do what I love - and wrestling was a big factor. I'm fortunate that they're letting me do that."
While there is no guarantee that Pico will transition to MMA immediately following the 2016 Olympics, the young prospect explained that becoming a fighter has been a lifelong dream of his - one that he intends to achieve.
"I love to fight. I love combat. It is a great feeling. Maybe I'm sick or something. I don't know - it is something that I can't describe.
‘I was born to do it."