Bellator two-division champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (30-4) was expected to defend his title against Pedro Carvalho (11-3) at Bellator 241 on March 13. The fight was to be a quarter-final bout in the ongoing Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix. Of course, the global COVID-19 pandemic would see that event—like so many other aspects of our daily lives—shelved.
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Freire had flown to Connecticut and weighed-in for his bout before it was announced that Bellator 241 would be canceled the day of the card. Worried about his family, he self-quarantined after his travels.
“I stayed home alone for one week,” Freire explained to John Hyon Ko.
“I had the coronavirus test as soon as I arrived. Once I received my test results and it was negative, that was when my family came back home.”
Being away from his newborn child and wife during these uncertain times while waiting for the verdict on his health was difficult. His only consolation was that his brother, Patricky Freire, and one of his trainers had also traveled and quarantined themselves with him while they awaited their own test results.
Fortunately, they too tested negative.
Despite putting in a full camp and going over final preparations for his title-defense only for it to be put on hold, “Pitbull” feels Bellator made the right call. The day after Bellator was called off, the UFC went ahead with their Brasilia card in an empty arena. The UFC Brasilia show was rather eerie and fans and media have continued to criticize UFC president Dana White for his devil-may-care attitude towards the deadly virus that continues to spread daily.
“The UFC made it look like they didn’t care about the health of their athletes but that’s their business,” stated Freire.
Bellator 243 and Michael Chandler
As anxious as we all are to reestablish some sense of normality in our daily lives, nobody knows what to expect moving forward. Freire is hoping his bout with Carvalho will be moved to Bellator 243 on June 6. Currently, undefeated prospect Antonio McKee is expected to face former bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell that night in another quarter-final tourney bout. That’s an interesting contest to “Pitbull.”
“I believe in the first round McKee has a chance of finishing Caldwell. But after the first, Caldwell has the ability to just take him down, swarm him, and get the decision. In the end, I think I’ll be facing Caldwell in the final fight of the tournament.”
Amidst all the madness filling our news cycles, three-time lightweight champion Michael Chandler— known for his heated rivalry with the Pitbull brothers— announced that he would be testing free agency. Freire TKO’d Chandler in the first round when the pair met last year, but it’s clear the tension is still there.
“I’m not worried about what Chandler wants to do next,” Freire divulged. “I broke his spirit in our fight. He knows if he stays [with Bellator] he’ll have to fight me again and get beaten again and he doesn’t want anything to do with that.”
“Regarding him testing free agency, he is not going to UFC, I can tell you that for sure. Last time he played this game I said it; he is not clean under USADA. He wants to be in an organization where it is easier for him to cycle and use steroids. So if he doesn’t stay with Bellator, he is going to one of the Asian promotions that doesn’t have testing like USADA. He wants to go as far away from USADA as possible so he can time his cycle.”
Brandon is a long-time fan of combat sports who has covered them for various outlets since 2017.