Patricky Freire got a new opponent for Saturday’s Bellator 152 main event, but his focus remains the same. Fresh off a devastating first-round finish over Ryan Couture in January, "Pitbull" faces Kevin Souza in Torino, Italy, and sees only one difference between the UFC veteran and his previous opponent, Derek Campos.
"The only difference now is that Kevin is tall for the division," Freire told MMA Fighting. "He has a reach that’s similar to some welterweights or even middleweights. That’s the only difference. He likes to box, and that’s the same school I come from. The guys that trained me already trained him in the past.
"You can’t change much in your training in five days," he continued. "Maybe we’ll try some things. But I train for every situation. There’s always someone pulling my ear to work harder on my wrestling, my jiu-jitsu, to throw more kicks and box. There’s always someone pulling my ear in the gym in every area."
Souza cut down from 155 pounds to featherweight years ago, and impressed with wins under the Jungle Fight and UFC banners. The Blackzilians fighter will return to the lightweight division for a short-notice clash with Freire, who vows to finish him.
"Everybody knows that the lightweight division is different," Freire said. "We are faster, more explosive, and with better cardio. I’m fighting in this division since I signed with Bellator and 2011, and he will feel the difference.
"Everybody in my division knows that I can end a fight with one punch or a submission, since I’m a jiu-jitsu black belt. I feel like I owe fans a submission, too. I haven’t submitted anyone in Bellator yet."
Freire’s original opponent, Campos, was coming off a knockout win over popular veteran Melvin Guillard, and "Pitbull" expected to earn a shot at the title with a win at Bellator 152. With Souza as his opponent, Freire doesn’t expect his future plans to drastically change.
"I don’t think it will be different with the change. The promotion has big plans for the division, so it won’t change anything," "Pitbull" said. "If you watch every MMA event, you know (that this opponent change) is not worse for me. It might be even better. I don’t know how to evaluate that. He just left the UFC and nobody knows why, but I believe it’s going to be a great fight, even better than it would be with Derek because he’s tall and likes to strike."
Even though he expects a shot at lightweight champion Will Brooks with a win in Italy, Freire hasn’t asked the promotion about it.
"I don’t like to ask about that because it takes my focus away from the fight, and I don’t want to think about the belt now," he explains. "Every time I thought about fighting for the title before my fights, my tournament fights, I lost. I will focus on who’s in front of me instead of what a win might bring in the future."
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