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Patricio Freire explains why he’s not fighting Michael Chandler at Bellator 197

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Patricio Freire
Patricio Freire wanted a five-round fight with Michael Chandler.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Michael Chandler will fight Brandon Girtz in the main event of Bellator 197 in St. Charles, Mo, on April 13, but that was not the company’s first backup plan.

Chandler, who was originally slated to rematch Brent Primus for the lightweight championship in April, found himself without an opponent after Primus pulled out with an injury.

The former 155-pound titleholder told ESPN on Thursday that featherweight champion Patricio Freire was offered a fight against him, but turned it down.

”I sent my contract over,” Chandler said, “and a couple hours later, I got a call back that basically said, ‘Never mind. Patricio is making all kinds of demands,’ which were basically smoke and mirrors for, ‘I don’t want to fight.’”

Speaking with MMA Fighting on Thursday, “Pitbull” said that he was the one that asked for the fight against Chandler, but couldn’t come to terms with the promotion.

“Brent Primus got injured and the fight was offered to my brother (Patricky Freire), but my brother is also injured, with a hand injury and a knee injury, so he’s still recovering,” Freire said. “At the same time, I sent Mike Kogan a personal message on Instagram saying that I would take the fight.”

According to the featherweight champion, Bellator reached out to his brother offering a interim title bout with Chandler, so he wanted the same deal.

“The fight was offered to my brother for the interim belt, so I sent him a message asking for the fight,” Freire said. “Mike Kogan said he would send the contract, but the contract came with different terms. No interim belt, and only three rounds. That’s why we didn’t get the fight done.”

Chandler holds a couple of wins over Patricky Freire, and the featherweight champion has said many times over the past few years that he would like to move up to lightweight to face him. “Iron” called Freire “a coward with a big mouth,” and Freire fired back.

“If I’m a coward, why did I ask for the fight? It doesn’t make sense,” Freire said. “I asked for the fight and Bellator backtracked. I asked for the same terms that were offered to my brother, and they didn’t accept it.”

With Chandler-Freire off the table, Bellator decided to match the former lightweight champion up against Girtz, who recently stopped Luka Jelcic in the first round at Bellator 190. Chandler is coming off a dominant victory over Goiti Yamauchi in January.