Two weeks ago, former Bellator lightweight champion Brent Primus (9-1 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) got back into the win column after a loss to now ex-champion Michael Chandler, and he did it in style.
Primus had lost his title rematch with Chandler in December, dropping a unanimous decision to his rival at Bellator 212. Primus had previously defeated Chandler by TKO (doctor’s stoppage) in an upset victory in June of 2017 when Chandler infamously rolled his ankle and was unable to continue after a barrage of effective leg kicks from Primus.
At Bellator Birmingham, the second installation of the promotion’s continued expansion into Europe, Primus competed for the first time since losing his title. He drew Tim Wilde (12-4 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), a Bellator debutant and U.K. native, in what many considered a step down for the Oregonian.
“Man, I don’t underestimate anybody, so I was going in there like he’s the, you know, the number one guy,” Primus told The Body Lock. “But at the same time, he wasn’t the competition like Michael Chandler, for sure. Michael Chandler’s one of the best guys in the world in the division, but like I said, I don’t underestimate anybody.”
Go, go, gogoplata!
Brent Primus certainly showed how seriously he was taking Wilde, wasting no time in taking the Englishman to the mat to put his second-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu to good use.
“Tim’s a tough guy; his stand up is really, really [good]. I just didn’t want to take the chance with that, so I was wanting him on the ground anyways, and it happened that way for sure,” said Primus.
Once the fight made it to the ground, it was time for Brent Primus to reveal one of his favorite tricks: the gogoplata.
The gogoplata is a choke in which the player in the bottom guard (or mount, if one fancies an ‘Aokiplata’) threads one of his or her legs over the shoulder and under the chin of his or her opponent, then locks the stranglehold in by controlling the head and upper body of the opponent with his or her other leg. From there, it’s just a squeeze and a pull away from submission.
For many jiu jitsu players – and certainly MMA fighters – the gogoplata is a rare thing in which to catch an opponent. The move requires a combination of dexterity, technical prowess, creativity, and, well, guts, to pull off that few possess. Yet despite all of that, Primus says it was just another day at the office.
“Yeah, it’s actually… it’s not so crazy to me. I catch people in the gym with it all the time. I’m really flexible, and you know, one of the things on my back is that I look for that omoplata. I have a lot of setups and a lot of things from the omoplata, and you know, I was throwing up an omoplata, but my shin just went underneath his shin, so I was like, ‘Oh, man, I got the gogo.’
And so I just started attacking the gogoplata, but if you trained with me, then you would know that it’s not too fancy ’cause I get people in that all the time,” said Primus.
Perhaps the most famous omoplata in MMA history was that of the legendary Nick Diaz, who pulled off the submission in a fight against Japanese superstar Takanori Gomi back at PRIDE FC 33 in 2007.
Primus, who says he grew up watching PRIDE, conceded with a laugh, “Nick’s was a little bit better than mine, I feel, but it was an awesome submission, for sure.”
Patricio Pitbull’s “Champ Champ” moment
This past weekend at Bellator 221, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire made history by defeating the aforementioned Chandler to earn the lightweight title and become a two-weight champion under the Bellator banner. Pitbull, who held the featherweight belt entering the contest, stopped Chandler in just over a minute via technical knockout.
The finish, which stemmed from a massive Pitbull right hand and ended with a series of blows to a floored Chandler, garnered some controversy in the aftermath of the event. Some argued that the referee intervened prematurely and that Chandler was not yet finished. Primus agrees Chandler was in trouble, but has a different philosophy when it comes to stopping a fight.
“I think that Chandler was rocked, and I think that you know, it wasn’t a bad decision for the ref, but at the same time, I think with a humongous fight like that – and it’s a title fight – that the ref should let the guy go unconscious or tap. That’s how I feel, you know?
Whenever I fight, I always tell the ref, ‘Man, let me go unconscious or let me tap. Please do not call the fight.’ That’s how I feel it should have been with a humongous fight like that.”
However, Primus still had some choice words for his archrival, Chandler.
“But at the same time, I feel no matter how Chandler loses, he’s gonna make an excuse ’cause he’s a poor sport. He is going to come up with any excuse to make it look like he didn’t actually lose.”
On the other hand, Primus had nothing but respect for Pitbull.
“I thought Chandler was going to win, but that’s a big win for Patricio, so congrats to him… I think Pitbull is a better guy, and I like him a lot more; I respect him a lot more.”
Brent Primus’ road back to the belt
Brent Primus has already had a taste of what being a champion is like, and it’s not a feeling he enjoys missing. Prior to the bout between Pitbull and Chandler, Primus told MMAJunkie his ideal scenario was that he’d get to face Chandler for the title in a trilogy bout, aiming to recapture the title and put an end to their feud.
But with Pitbull’s win, a wrench has been thrown into those plans. Primus put that frustration into perspective.
“If it was any other situation, I would’ve wanted Patricio to win. But I want to beat Chandler for the belt. I want to fight him for five rounds; I want to fight him for the belt. So, that’s what I was really wanting,” said Primus.
Interestingly, though, posed the option to choose between fighting Chandler next – without a title on the line – or Pitbull, Primus opted to go for gold.
“I think it’d be a dumb move to pass up on a title fight. As bad as I want to fight Chandler, I’ve got people in my family; I’ve got to pay bills. I think, obviously, fighting for the belt you’re going to get paid more, so I want that belt back, for sure. So, I’d definitely take that belt. I’d fight whoever has that belt.
I feel like if I win that belt from Patricio – like I think I really could – I’m gonna fight Chandler soon [after]… I want that belt back.”
If that fight were to materialize between Primus and Pitbull at lightweight, Primus is confident he would be able to get the job done inside the distance.
“He’s a gritty tough dude for sure, you know, but I would definitely use my power, my strength, and my size on him. You know, I’ve got a humongous reach on him, and I feel like I’m just a lot bigger and could get top of him, and so I definitely think I could stop him within five rounds.”
However, Primus thinks there’s a very good possibility that he never faces Patricio Pitbull for the belt – because he might not have it for very long. Primus considered the pitfalls of having a two-division champion, including the fact that one title might not get defended for a while, but doesn’t believe it to be the issue at hand.
“I think that it wouldn’t be an issue, besides the fact that Patricio, his older brother is Patricky [Freire], and he’s a 155er, and he’s earned his way really close to that title shot, if not a title shot, I feel, you know. He’s definitely one of the top guys, and so I don’t think Patricio would hold that belt on just ’cause he’s going to hold the opportunity of his brother getting the title.
So, I really don’t think he’s going to do that. You know, I think he’s going to give up the belt, or he’s going to fight right away… or not. I don’t see him fighting either way, because he’s got the featherweight tournament for $1 million coming up, so I really think he’s going to vacate the belt just so his brother can have opportunity to win the title. That’s what I’m thinking.”
At any rate, Brent Primus is still planning on recapturing the title that was once his, and he’s willing to put his feud with Chandler on hold to do so.
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.