Bellator 249 lost its co-headliner Patricky Freire vs. Jaleel Willis shortly before the opening bell when Freire came down with labyrinthitis, an infection triggered by a cold or flu. It’s unclear what exactly caused Patricky Freire’s condition.
Labyrinthitis causes inflammation of the inner ear or the nerves that connect the inner ear to the brain.
Multiple people with knowledge of the scratch confirmed the news to MMA Fighting after an initial report from MMA Junkie. Both fighters will be compensated for the cancelled bout, per Bellator officials.
In a prepared statement, Michael Mazzulli, executive director of the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, which regulates Bellator events held in the “Fight Sphere” at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., said Freire was not cleared to compete due to “an undisclosed illness.” He added, “it is not related to Covid-19 or weight-cutting.”
“Pitbull” Freire and Willis were scheduled to face off in a 159-pound catchweight bout. Freire, the older brother of two-division champ Patricio Freire, most recently fought this past December in a losing effort against Tofiq Musayev in the finals of the Rizin lightweight grand prix. LFA vet Willis was making his Bellator debut on the strength of a four-fight winning streak.
The younger Freire later released a statement on his official Instagram account where he confirmed his brother’s diagnosis.
“I caught him in his room a bit dizzy right when we were going to leave to the arena,” Patricio Freire wrote. “He wanted to fight and didn’t want to tell us. We gave him the benefit of the doubt, but he didn’t get better when we got to the locker room and we canceled the fight.
“He was seen by [two] commission doctors, has been medicated and is medically well now, but devastated with the cancellation. He’s had this before, but never on fight week or even fight day. Unfortunately this happened now. He’ll go see more doctors and when we’re sure it’s under control we’ll talk about his next fight.”
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(Texto em português no meio do post) Hi everyone, I know you were all looking forward to see my brother fight, but me and our trainers decided to cancel it after noticing he was unwell. Patricky is suffering from a crisis of labyrinthitis (strong type of vertigo). I caught him in his room a bit dizzy right when we were going to leave to the arena. He wanted to fight and didn't want to tell us. We gave him the benefit of the doubt, but he didn't get better when we got to the locker room and we cancelled the fight. He was seen by 2 commission doctors, has been medicated and is medically well now, but devastated with the cancellation. He's had this before, but never on fight week or even fight day. Unfortunately this happened now. He'll go see more doctors and when we're sure it's under control we'll talk about his next fight. Fala galera, eu sei que todos queriam ver meu irmão lutar, mas eu e nossos treinadores decidimos cancelar a luta após notar que ele não estava bem. Patricky está sofrendo de uma crise de labirintite. Eu o encontrei no quarto um pouco tonto quando íamos sair pra arena. Ele queria lutar e não quis contar pra gente. Nós demos a ele o benefício da dúvida, mas ele não melhorou quando chegamos no vestiário e cancelamos a luta. Ele foi visto por 2 médicos da comissão, foi medicado, e está fisicamente bem, mas muito triste com o cancelamento. Ele já teve isso antes, mas nunca em semana de luta. Infelizmente aconteceu agora. Ele verá mais médicos e quando tivermos certeza que está tudo sob controle falaremos sobre a próxima luta.