Pico avenges earlier loss; Shields wins via split decision

Feb. 24—In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, two MMA fighters with Albuquerque connections scored victories on Saturday.

Aaron Pico, who lives in Albuquerque and trains at Jackson-Wink, avenged an earlier defeat by stopping Henry Corrales via first-round TKO.

Professional and Olympic boxing champion Claressa Shields, who trained at Jackson-Wink for her first two MMA fights but trained elsewhere for Saturday's fight, defeated Kelsey DeSantis by split decision.

The fights were part of a PFL vs. Bellator card in Riyadh. PFL (Professional Fighters League) recently acquired Bellator.

Pico (13-4) had lost to Corrales (21-8) by first-round knockout on a Bellator card in January 2019. It was Pico's sixth MMA fight, Corrales' 20th.

On Saturday, Pico forcefully demonstrated that the experience gap has been bridged. Taking down Corrales several times, landing hard blows in standup and on the ground, Pico got the stoppage with just seven seconds remaining in the first. He was blasting away with elbows on the ground when referee Bryan Miner stepped in.

Pico, a career featherweight (145 pounds), fought on Saturday for the first time at lightweight (155).

Shields (2-1), who trained for Saturday's fight at Murcielago MMA in her home state of Michigan, repeatedly stunned DeSantis (1-3) with punches in standup in the first round. DeSantis scored a takedown later in the round but did no significant damage.

DeSantis clearly won the second, taking Shields down early, keeping her back to the ground and nearly ending the fight with an arm bar.

In the third, with Shields raining punches on DeSantis for the first half of the round, DeSantis again scored a takedown and kept Shields' back to the ground for the remainder of the five minutes. But two of the three judges favored the damage Shields had done with her fists.

The scores were 29-28 for DeSantis and the same score twice for Shields.

Shields had weighed in on Friday at 164.4 pounds, DeSantis at 164.6