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With Bellator title shot unlikely, Patricky Freire eyes 2018 return against Goiti Yamauchi or Derek Campos

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Patricky Freire defeated Ben Henderson via split decision at Bellator 183.
Bellator MMA

Patricky Freire defeated former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the main event of Bellator 183 in San Jose, Calif., on Sept. 23, but he isn’t sure where the performance puts him in the 155-pound division.

“Pitbull" was aiming to finish Henderson to make a statement and establish himself as the “ex-UFC killer” in Bellator, but went back home with a split decision instead. In his pre-fight interview with MMA Fighting, Freire talked about how he would try to avoid decision against Henderson since he had won a few controversial calls in the past.

The Brazilian lightweight believes he won "at least” two of the three rounds on Saturday, and two of the three judges agreed with him.

"I was confident when the fight was over, but at the same time you’re afraid because you never know what the judges thought of the fight,” Freire told MMA Fighting. "Ben Henderson has a history of winning close fights, so I was worried, but at the same time I was confident that I fought well."

Hoping that a win over such a popular name would put him back into title contention, Freire expects current lightweight champion Brent Primus to give Michael Chandler an immediate rematch after their controversial bout at Madison Square Garden.

“Pitbull" even traded a few words with Primus on Twitter, but only has good things to say about the champion afterwards.

“He was never disrespectful with me, and he seems to be a very polite guy,” Freire said.

Freire won’t say the same thing about Chandler or another former Bellator titleholder, though.

"Michael Chandler always wants to be the center of attention,” Freire said. "Every time I fight, he wants attention so he starts to talk trash. It seems like former Bellator champions have that. Will Brooks was just like that. I wasn’t the champion and he wanted to fight me and wanted my attention. If don’t know if it’s because I’m handsome or what’s the deal [laughs]."

With Primus or Chandler not in his horizon, Freire is already starting to wonder who’s next for him. Aiming to return to action in January or February of 2018, the Brazilian talent, who turns 32 in January, has two names in mind.

"There are not many people that make much sense right now,” Freire said. "The only ones that are growing right now are Derek Campos, who I was going to give a rematch before, and Goiti (Yamauchi), who has won three in a row at lightweight. They are the only two I see right now. I don’t know who else I could fight next. They are the only two that make sense.”

Freire already beat Campos under the Bellator banner, knocking him out in 2014. Bellator tried to book a rematch three times already, but it never came to fruition. Yamauchi, who has looked unstoppable so far since moving up from featherweight, could be a fresh match-up for Freire.

"They have complete different fighting styles,” “Pitbull" said. "Goiti has a great ground game and Derek Campos likes to stand more, but whoever they bring would be good to me. I just way to stay in rhythm and stay in shape."