UFC and ONE Championship surprised the fight world by the trade that involved both companies and MMA stars Demetrious Johnson and Ben Askren, and opening this door gave ideas to many people involved in the industry.
A short tweet Bellator president Scott Coker moments after the trade was reported by the first got a quick reply by company’s featherweight champion Patricio Freire, suggesting Coker to go after former UFC featherweight king Jose Aldo.
Freire knows that Aldo is much more popular than him in Brazil, noting the fact that his countryman has defended his UFC title multiple times on Brazilian soil. “Pitbull” still thinks Aldo is as tough as he’s ever been even thought he doesn’t hold the featherweight belt anymore, “but he hasn’t evolved.”
“There are many guys that are expensive and don’t make much sense anymore,” Freire told MMA Fighting when asked who should Bellator offer in a trade for Aldo. “Ben Henderson, for an example. He didn’t have a good run in Bellator but still is a top fighter, had good fights and just submitted Roger Huerta, but it doesn’t make much sense for Bellator to pay him that much money. ‘King Mo’ (Lawal) is another one.”
Trading Henderson or Lawal for Aldo, or even both, would be a great deal for Bellator, but maybe not so much for the UFC. That’s why the featherweight champion would throw his brother’s name in the hat as well.
Patricky Freire, 20-8 as a professional fighter, is currently riding a four-fight winning streak that includes knockouts over Roger Huerta, Derek Campos and Josh Thomson, and a decision win over Ben Henderson. Of his last seven fights, “Pitbull” has only lost a championship bout to Michael Chandler.
“How about heating up their lightweight division and putting my brother there?” Freire said. “He’s a knockout artist, never lost to a UFC fighter, and knocked everyone except Ben Henderson. How about that?”
Having Aldo under the same umbrella would finally give Freire the opportunity to try to prove a point he has been making for a long time now, that he’s the greatest featherweight of all-time.
The UFC star reminded the MMA world of his greatness in July, stopping Jeremy Stephens in the opening round in Calgary. Freire, who puts his Bellator title on the line on Nov. 15 against Emmanuel Sanchez, lists a number of facts that he thinks are enough to put him ahead of Aldo on the best of all-time list.
”First of all, I would like to point out that it’s not jealously, I’m only stating facts here,” Freire said. “Some people say I should go to the UFC to be considered the greatest featherweight, and I disagree with some points. You can take numbers and facts into consideration. There are many things that get overlooked.
”Someone compared my opponents to Aldo’s, and my opponents had more wins than losses when we fought. And there’s also the way we got to the belt. I never had a belt handed to me as a gift. After the UFC merged with WEC, he became champion in a ceremony. I never had something handed to me that easily.”
“Pitbull” fought 19 times inside the Bellator cage. The combined record of his opponents by the time they fought is 339-73-1. Aldo fought 12 times in the Octagon, and his opponents’ records combined at the time was 203-48-2. If you also consider Aldo’s eight WEC bouts, his opponents’ record get closer to Freire’s at 323-70-5.
”I was never submitted or knocked out,” said Freire, who has more stoppage wins (20) than Aldo (17). “Every time he lost, four times, he was finished. No one ever made me quit. I have three close decision losses, two of those were controversial split decisions. My record could easily have only one loss, when I injured my leg (against Henderson).
”I think Jose Aldo is a great fighter, has a great history, no one can deny that, but many people think I should go to bantamweight because I’m too small, and instead I went to 155 to fight someone who came as a top contender in the UFC. I was beating Ben Henderson before getting injured. Aldo won’t fight at 155 because he doesn’t want to. He had many offers to do so.
”Aldo’s longest winning streak was 18. If you don’t consider my two controversial split decision losses, I would have won 24 in a row. I left Brazil to fight an American with American judges in the United States, and had two defeats in fights I don’t think I lost.
”We know the UFC is 25 years old, Bellator is around since 2008, but the fact that someone fights in the UFC, Bellator, WSOF, whatever, doesn’t mean he’s better or worse, it only means he’s under contract with that promotion. Conor McGregor became a monster in the UFC, but he was already a star in other promotions.”
Freire thinks “we can only know who’s the greatest featherweight in history if we fought each other,” and sees himself beating both Aldo and current UFC champion Max Holloway.
”I don’t think it’s impossible for this fight to happen, but I ask myself… Aldo has said (bad) things about Bellator in the past, but Bellator can pay him more than he gets paid in the UFC,” Freire said. “I wonder what matters the most for him, fame or knowing if he really is the best fighter on the planet. I ask myself that because he once said that he wouldn’t go to the second division. Who said Bellator is the second division? It’s not.”
”Many fighters came over from the UFC and lost. Diego Nunes came and I knocked him out with two punches. Ben Henderson was a top contender at lightweight and was losing to me, a natural bantamweight. That wouldn’t happen if we were the second division. That’s unfortunate of him to say. But Aldo, I can’t expect much from him because he’s not much of a smart guy. I can’t expect too much from him. What can I do?”
Arguing that he did more than Aldo throughout his MMA career, Freire also thinks he should be added to the discussion of who the greatest of all times is regardless of weight class.
”Of course. No one ever stopped me,” Freire said. “Another thing is… it’s not Jose Aldo’s fault, but he will carry that with him for the rest of his life: he was gifted a belt, I have not. He knows that. His second belt, too. There was no reason to put him for an interim title. He had just lost to Conor McGregor, why did they give him a belt? But (the UFC) became a belt party, they were giving everyone belts anyway.”
Freire has to remain at the top if he wants to be seen as the greatest featherweight of all times, and has a tough test ahead of him in Tel Aviv, facing Sanchez in the main event of Thursday’s Bellator 209.
“He’s a complete fighter,” Freire said. “He has good striking, reminds me of Tony Ferguson. Not that crazy, but it does. He has a great ground game, better than most, so I’m paying attention to that. Not that I think he’s better than me, but that’s something I should be aware of.”
“Pitbull” is known more for his knockout power, but had more submissions (11) than knockouts (9) through his career. “When I see a neck or an arm I catch it, it’s pure instinct,” he said. At Bellator 209, he expects to add another stoppage to his record.
“I can’t let this fight go the distance,” Freire said. “I’m more complete, therefore I can’t let it go five rounds, I want to finish in the second or third round. If you let him too comfortable he grows in the fight. He doesn’t hit hard, but he’s ballsy, and every ballsy fighter that fought me ended up finished.”