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Bellator 206: Aaron Pico vs. Leandro Higo - 9/29/2018 Betting Prediction

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

At Bellator 206, featherweight super-prospect, Aaron Pico, gets his toughest test to date against savvy Brazilian veteran, Leandro Higo. Will the hype train keep rolling or does the experience of Higo lead to a surprising upset?

A Star in the Making?

As a teenager, Aaron Pico was a hugely accomplished freestyle wrestler and Golden Gloves boxing champion. At only 19 years of age, Pico qualified for the Olympic trials and came extremely close to being a part of the men’s national freestyle wrestling team. Given his athletic gifts and will to succeed, it’s only logical he transitioned to MMA.

Unlike most fighters who make their professional debut on regional shows, Pico turned professional under the bright lights of Bellator and paid the price. Getting caught by an uppercut and submitted in the first minute of his debut, things couldn’t have gone worse for the young prodigy. However, Pico came back with a vengeance and annihilated his next three opponents by way of first-round stoppage. The KO victory over Justin Linn was particularly impressive, as his opponent was unconscious before he even hit the canvas.

Pico is athletic, powerful, a great wrestler and throws excellent boxing combinations. However, he’s supremely aggressive and leaves openings on the feet. His submission defense is also a question mark.

How Does Higo Approach This Fight?

Make no mistake, Leandro Higo is a massive step up in competition from anyone Pico has faced. The Brazilian has decent hands and is an opportunist submission threat. The biggest problem is that he’s an average-sized bantamweight, and this is a featherweight bout.

While Higo has a few knockout wins on his record, he’s not a power puncher, and he’s even less likely to score a KO at a higher weight class. Perhaps Higo will aim to rock his opponent on the feet and snatch up a submission on the mat.

In addition to the size disadvantage, Higo is nowhere near the caliber of wrestler that Pico is. It will be the American fighter that decides whether the fight will take place on the feet or the ground. Still, Higo is a skilled combatant who is coming for a win, not a paycheck. If Pico doesn’t respect him, he will undoubtedly pay for it.

Who Wins?

These betting lines are wide, but I can’t recommend a playing the underdog because it seems so unfavorable stylistically. There is no way Higo is landing a takedown - he either has to score a club and sub finish or somehow lock in a submission off his back. I don’t think Pico gives him that opportunity.

Ultimately I believe someone, probably Higo, is getting finished here. It’s hard to envision this going all three rounds.

Pick: Fight doesn’t go to decision -245

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