Aaron Pico vs. Jordan Oliver: The Prodigy

We all know Aaron Pico. He was lauded as the next big thing in mixed martial arts and while his career hasn’t gone the way it has supposed to, Pico is still one of the best fighters on the planet. But before he became MMA’s premier prospect and worked his way through Bellator’s featherweight division, Aaron Pico was a freestyle wrestling prodigy.

Aaron Pico was the best wrestling prospect in the country coming out of high school. Despite his skills, Pico decided to pursue mixed martial arts after his run at the Olympics in 2016. He would not go to college and wrestle. The path for him would be Olympics then mixed martial arts. Pico aspired for greatness. At only 19, Aaron Pico was just two matches away from making the Olympic team. But standing in his way was Jordan Oliver.

Jordan Oliver was the man in front of Aaron Pico. An improbable ask, Pico would have to beat Oliver who had outmatched him in age and experience. A two time NCAA Champion, Oliver would become one of Pico’s toughest fought matches of his freestyle career. Oliver was great then, and since this match, he has gone on to win the Team USA trials in 2022. He is an Olympic level opponent.

But Aaron Pico’s career of work, his unmatched nerve to win, and his tightly honed skills would put him within reach of beating Jordan Oliver and moving on to the finals of the Olympic Team trials. Pico knew what to do. He had to go out to the mat and be great as he’s done time and time before.

Aaron Pico vs. Jordan Oliver: A Technical Readout

Early in the match, Aaron Pico falls behind on the cards as Jordan Oliver gets a point on the push out. This immediately puts Pico behind on the scoreboard and it would be a tough climb to regain the lead.

Next we see part of the conundrum for Pico. Jordan Oliver is fast, very fast. Pico’s bread and butter is being on the offensive and Oliver’s speed, as we see in the shot here, is too much for Pico. Now Pico will have to figure out new ways to score. But in the mean time, Jordan Oliver will run up the score putting Pico in a hole to dig himself out of.

Here we see just how good Jordan Oliver really is. He will snap down the head of Aaron Pico and pull down the arm. This puts Pico out of position and Oliver’s speed allows him to snag the ankle of his foe.

Now in on the single, Oliver tries to score on Pico which is easier said than done. Pico has great balance and it shows. But Oliver is relentless. As Pico sprawls, Oliver finds a corner to turn and get the go-behind to score two.

Down 3-0, Pico has to do something. Remember the speed of Oliver we discussed moments ago? To deal with that, Aaron Pico does something clever. He shoots in for the takedown but if you pay very close attention, he goes to step on the lead foot of Jordan Oliver to slow him down. It doesn’t work here as Oliver gets his foot out and Oliver circles out and manages to get in on the single against the edge of the mat. Pico, knowing he’s behind, uses his underhook on his right side, Oliver’s left, and shucks the arm up and manages to get away from Oliver’s attack and score two in the process. Aaron Pico is on the board and back in the match.

But Jordan Oliver would come roaring back. On the reset, he shoots in on the double leg and gets another point for the pushout. There, we go into the break with Oliver up 4-2. But the second period will bring us even more fun.

Roaring Back

When the second period starts, Jordan Oliver extends his lead even further. Oliver’s speed helps him yet again and he gets on the single. He builds his way up with the leg of Pico corralled and, knowing the balance of Pico, Oliver lifts the leg and trips the posted leg of Pico, secures the back and a 6-2 lead on the young prodigy.

Now Aaron Pico comes out with some urgency. To start his comeback, he steps in on the takedown, successfully stepping on Oliver’s lead foot, and grabbing the leg. Oliver tries to stay balanced but Pico pulls out the same trip that Oliver used moments ago and scores the two by securing the takedown.

Seconds later, Pico shoots the takedown again, looking to step on the lead foot of Oliver once more. Oliver is a hair too fast and gets his leg free. But on the large step in, Pico got just close enough to snag behind the knee and lift Oliver’s leg again. As he does, Oliver looks to mitigate the score by retreating out and giving up one point instead of the two for the takedown. Pico goes for the trip and Oliver gets just out of bounds as Pico finishes the takedown. But the score puts him within one point of Oliver.

But the comeback wouldn’t be so simple for Aaron Pico. After pushing forward, Oliver snaps down Pico’s head and grabs the ankle once again. He elevates his opponents leg and Pico looks to do the same as Oliver did last clip and mitigate damage by going out. But the referee calls it a takedown and Oliver is awarded another 2 points with just over a minute and a half to go.

On the next reset, Pico will answer the call and have a huge snapdown of the tired Jordan Oliver. Pico gets in on the single and Oliver high tails it to the edge of the mat. This time, instead of tripping, Aaron Pico releases the leg and dives for the back. As he does, he secures the takedown before Oliver gets out. Oliver, however is tired. Pico notoriously puts on a torrid pace and as the match goes on, he can break down his opponents and win late. He will do just that.

Pico shoots quick on the very next reset. He does not want to give Jordan Oliver time to rest. Olivier tries to make it to the edge and as Pico lifts the leg, he pulls it away from the edge of the mat, secures back control, and the lead. Aaron Pico is now up on Jordan Oliver for the first time, 9-8.

Jordan Oliver has one last shot in him and on the snap down, he goes around Pico and tries to push through his opponent. As the two are playing grab ass, Oliver pushes Pico out of bounds, tieing the score up at nine a piece with just over 30 seconds remaining. This one will go down to the wire.

The two meet in the middle and Pico looks for a snap down but Oliver has just enough gas in the tank left to avoid a single again. He tries a snap down of his own but Pico is too strong and stays up. Now Jordan Oliver is down and Pico shoots on his foe. He secures the two and the lead for the last time. Aaron Pico is the victor.

Pico would go on to wrestle in the best of three match with Frank Molinaro. He went on to win the first match but lost the next two in razor close contests. Pico would not become an Olympian. After the 2016 run at the Games, Pico would, of course, move on to mixed martial arts. His wrestling in tow, he is one of the most dangerous fighters to date. Despite some mishaps, Aaron Pico’s skills in the mat have translated well to the cage.

Blaine Henry

Just your friendly neighborhood fight fan!

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