NEW YORK -- With a massive hype train behind him, 20-year-old Aaron Pico entered the cage for his pro debut on Saturday at Bellator NYC with many wondering if he's the greatest prospect in MMA history.
Twenty-four seconds later, Madison Square Garden was dead silent.
Pico, whom Bellator signed to a developmental contract in 2014, more than two years before he was to make his debut, saw his showcase bout end via massive upset.
After Pico ran across the cage at the opening bell to attack Zach Freeman, he was dropped by a right hand. Freeman, 33, instantly applied a guillotine choke and quickly forced the tap.
The unheralded Freeman (9-2), a native of St. Louis, spent Friday's weigh-in openly wondering why Bellator didn't have a video package for him to match the one they played for Pico. After his stunning victory on Saturday, he chalked up his victory to positivity.
"The power of belief in this life," said Freeman, who was making his Bellator debut. "Anything can happen but you have to believe it."
Despite entering the bout with a four-inch height and 2.5-inch reach advantage over Pico, Freeman was the massive betting underdog. The reason surrounded Pico's incredibly well-rounded game for someone so young.
Pico, a lightweight from Whittier, California, had competed in wrestling on an international level since grade school. He was a Golden Gloves boxing champion who currently works with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach at his famed Wild Card gym in Los Angeles. His Brazilian jiu-jitsu is handled by the revered Eddie Bravo.
But Pico's debut was over just as quickly as it began. After the bout, Pico apologized to each member of his team as they consoled him.
Only a sport like mixed martial arts could produce such a wild and unforeseen ending.