Coach: ‘Aaron Pico is going to win a world championship in 2023 for Bellator’

Aaron Pico has made a full recovery and has big plans for 2023.

The 26-year-old fighter has been out of action since injuring his shoulder midway through the first round of a fight against Jeremy Kennedy in October 2022 at Bellator 286, which led to Pico being defeated by a doctor between rounds. The setback ended a six-fight streak that brought Pico to the brink of a Bellator featherweight title challenge, but according to Pico’s trainer Brandon Gibson, the incident proved to be a blessing in disguise.

“He’s even better than he was,” Gibson said recently on Hour of MMA. “He needed shoulder surgery. It was an old trauma. Unfortunately, the way that fight with Jeremy Kennedy went, I can’t wait to play it. This is what motivates me every single day. Aaron’s shoulder is stronger than ever. It’s actually scary.

“I really had to bandage my wrists [during padwork], his left hook was so powerful and so fast. Also, while he was rebuilding his left shoulder, man, he just kept polishing every part of his game, from the mental to the physical.”

Pico remains one of Bellator’s most promising homegrown players.

The California native made his MMA debut with the promotion in 2017 as one of the sport’s most touted young talents. Henry CorralesAnd Adam BoriksPico found his success in recent years under Gibson’s tutelage. His six-fight streak from January 2020 to April 2022 was one of the most brutal under the Bellator banner at the time, with Pico racking up five stoppage victories over his six winning appearances.

Pico is now set to return on April 22 at Bellator 295 against Otto Rodriguez, and Gibson is confident that the top featherweights will have big things to do next year.

“Aaron Pico is going to win the world championship in 2023 for Bellator, I have no doubt,” said Gibson, who is also a longtime trainer for UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones. “My two students will be two champions by the end of this year.”


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