Aaron Pico is set to resume his career after shoulder surgery when he competes at Bellator 295 in April.
Pico will welcome promotional newcomer Otto Rodrigues to the Bellator cage in a main card featherweight bout at the April 22 event, which takes place at Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu. The main card airs on Showtime following prelims on MMA Junkie.
MMA Junkie verified the booking between Pico (10-4 MMA, 10-4 BMMA) and Rodrigues (13-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) with a person close to the situation. The person requested anonymity because the organization has yet to make an official announcement.
Pico, 26, will return to action after he suffered a separated shoulder in an injury TKO loss to Jeremy Kennedy at Bellator 286 in October. He was forced to undergo surgery to repair the damage, and told MMA Junkie in February he is determined to hold the 145-pound belt this year, and viewed his next fight as the start of that push.
“I’d like to be a world champion at the end of 2023,” Pico said. “I feel I’m ready, I have a new shoulder, I’m just knocking on the door to be a champion, and I think when it’s all said and done in this year, I’ll have the Bellator belt wrapped around my waist.”
Rodrigues, 34, hasn’t competed since July 2021, and before that hadn’t fought since April 2017 due to multiple canceled matchups and other circumstances. The Brazilian has fought the majority of his career under the Jungle Fights, Shooto and LFA banners, earning all six of his career stoppage wins by submission. The latest Bellator 295 lineup now includes:
MAIN CARD (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET)
- Raufeon Stots vs. Patchy Mix – for interim bantamweight title
- Ilima-Lei Macfarlane vs. Kana Watanabe
- Ray Borg vs. Kyoji Horiguchi
- Aaron Pico vs. Otto Rodrigues
PRELIMINARY CARD (MMA Junkie, 7 p.m. ET)
- opponent TBA vs. Davion Franklin
- Charlie Leary vs. Yancy Medeiros
- Aalon Cruz vs. Bobby King
- Weber Almeida vs. Keoni Diggs
- Adli Edwards vs. Kai Kamaka
- Veta Arteaga vs. Sumiko Inaba
I don’t think throwing Pico an easy fight is the right move, even with the injury. We need to see how he looks against legit competition. His last fight didn’t tell us anything one way or the other.
Good to see him back for Bellators sake though
I feel like I saw that fight but can’t remember the details. Was that the one where his corner was trying to pop his shoulder in, or was it stopped mid fight?
Yes to both