"Pitbull" and "Barbaric" battled for the first time on Sept. 7, 2013, at the Mohegan Sun Arena, and the Brazilian dropped to 0-3 with a unanimous decision loss. Freire, finished by Lloyd Woodard and Eddie Alvarez in previous Bellator headliners, was living and training in Rio de Janeiro, 1,500 miles away from his hometown Natal, and that became an issue.
"I was coming off a knee injury, hadn’t fought in a year," Freire told MMAFighting.com. "After this fight, I found out I was depressed. My coaches at Team Nogueira got me an appointment with a great psychologist and I thank him for helping me. He did some tests and found out I had depression, and he cured me.
"I was away from my family for two years, coming off losses, so that disturbed me. After that, I came back with a win. I moved back to Natal to live with my family. I’m happy again."
Freire bounced back to the win column with a unanimous decision victory over James Edson Berto two months later, and decided to return to Natal.
"I’m way more focused now, and my training is even better today," he said. "My training in Natal is focused on what I need. We had good coaches at Team Nogueira, but they had many other athletes that were more important than me, so they couldn’t give everyone the same attention. I’m happier in Natal, next to my family. I can train anytime I want. It’s completely different."
Winner of four of his past five bouts, including a pair of knockouts over Derek Campos and David Rickels, "Pitbull" hopes to face Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks next, but isn’t sure that a win over Anderson is enough to earn a title shot.
"I don’t speak English, Josh Thomson and Michael Chandler might be easier guys to promote," he said. "If it doesn’t happen, man, I’ll stay focused. I will stay six weeks in the United States after this fight, training wrestling in Arizona and Colorado Springs. I want to work on my defense and attack, feel their pressure, to know how they work."
But even if a title shot doesn’t come after Bellator 147, "Pitbull" will continue to pursue a second fight with Brooks, this time inside a cage.
"Man, this guy is a clown," Freire said of their hotel altercation prior to Bellator 145 in November. "He’s always trying to get attention from the media, it doesn’t matter if he’s winning or getting beat up. He just wants attention. I’ll leave him alone for now. He does not deserve my attention. He’s calling me out, and he’s the champion. I’ll let things happen. If it has to happen, it will happen. I won’t talk about this anymore because I almost got myself in trouble because of this [laughs]."
And if they do fight again, Freire knows how the champion would react to certain things.
"Yes, yes, I could see a lot about him," "Pitbull" said with a laugh. "His instinct is to go for a takedown when he gets punched in the face."