Bellator’s featherweight champion, Patricio Pitbull, has been put out of action until 2024 due to cervical spine surgery that took place on Sunday, as announced by his team on Tuesday.
After suffering his first knockout defeat in his MMA career at Super RIZIN 2 on July 30, in a surprising loss to Chihiro Suzuki in Japan, Pitbull revealed that he needed to undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc in the C6 and C7 region of his neck, which had been causing pain and numbness in his arms.
Pitbull is anticipated to receive clearance to fight within six months. However, Bellator has not yet disclosed its intentions regarding the 145-pound championship belt, last defended in October 2022. Since his successful title defense over Adam Borics, the Brazilian fighter has competed three times: defeating ex-RIZIN champion Kleber Koike in a non-title bout in Japan, losing to Sergio Pettis in a battle for the 135-pound Bellator crown, and most recently falling to Suzuki in a catchweight match in Japan.
The MMA legend underwent the surgical procedure in Natal, Brazil on Sunday. Dr. Marco Moscatelli commented that the injury might have negatively affected Pitbull’s performance in recent contests against Sergio Pettis and Suzuki, marking the first time he has lost two consecutive fights in MMA.
Expressing the physical toll the injury took on him, Pitbull said in a statement, “I felt weak and numb in my arms and legs when hit during the fights. I held off on the surgery because of the irreversible nature and potential risks, like possibly never fighting again. I took a conservative approach, but it cost me. For the first time in 19 years as a pro, I lost two straight fights and suffered a knockout. The only option left was surgery.”
The operation, which lasted an hour, was declared a success by his team. Now, Pitbull is confident that he will “return stronger to defend my title and engage in rematches with Pettis for the bantamweight crown, and with Chihiro Suzuki to protect my Bellator championship.”
He concluded with gratitude towards the medical team, saying, “I thank Dr. Marco and his team. The post-surgery experience was excellent. I feel much better and am eager to fully recover and get back to training as quickly as possible.”