Patricio Freire became the two-time Bellator MMA featherweight champion Friday night. But the weekend still left him with somewhat of a bad taste in his mouth.
The Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation fined “Pitbull” $2,500 for climbing on top of the cage during his victory celebration after he beat Daniel Straus for the belt in the Bellator 178 main event.
Mohegan Tribe regulatory director Mike Mazzulli told MMA Fighting on Saturday that he warned fighters during the weigh-in seven times not to climb on the cage or over it after fights due to safety concerns. Two years ago, Bellator fighter Darrion Caldwell did a back flip off the cage and landed on a camera woman. Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho was fined $5,000 earlier this month for leaving the cage in celebration after defeating Melvin Manhoef.
Freire (26-4) was upset at the commission’s decision, he told MMA Fighting in a statement via his manager Matheus Aquino.
“Are you fucking serious?” Freire said. “We aren't allowed to celebrate anymore? “Check Bellator's Instagram right now and you'll see a picture of me on top of the cage with thousands of likes. I was living my moment. And look at that, it was great for TV too. The commission should find other ways to make money instead of taking it from the fighters' pockets and dirtying their names. This is a joke.”
The 29-year-old “Pitbull” was also not happy that Mazzulli told MMA Fighting that he was given a steam-cleaning bill from the Mohegan hotel due to a mess left in his room. Freire said it was a coach’s room, not his.
“Mazzulli was not ethical by talking about the room situation,” Freire said. “It wasn't my room, it was my coaches' and there was no mess. I do not agree with the fine and I wonder what his intentions are in saying this when all he was asked about was about me climbing the cage. Even if he was right on what he said, it was hotel business and he publicized wrong, harmful information, and I'll be looking at what actions to take regarding this.”
In a statement, Freire’s brother Patricky, also a star Bellator fighter, alluded to a history between the team and Mazzulli. Patricky said Mazzulli talked at Bellator events in Turin and Budapest about almost throwing him out of his brother’s corner once because he was too loud and disrupting the judges. Patricky added that Mazzulli came to their team and said he just made some money when he saw Patricio climb on the cage.
“This all looks like harassment and prejudice to me,” Patricky said.
Mazzulli, the president of the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC), is frequently the head regulator for Bellator international events. He declined further comment about the situation when reached Sunday by MMA Fighting.