Bellator is slowly starting to move in the direction of hosting MMA events again, and two-division champion Patricio Freire feels the promotion is doing the right thing.
“Pitbull” (30-4) was scheduled to defend his 145-pound belt in a tournament quarterfinal bout with Pedro Carvalho on March 13, but the company pulled the plug on Bellator 241 hours before the show due to the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
Bellator paid fighters their show and win money despite no bouts taking place, and Freire flew back to Brazil days later. “Pitbull,” his boxing coach and his brother Patricky Freire were isolated from their families for one week in Natal before receiving their test results, which came back negative for COVID-19.
Bellator aims to schedule shows in a Hollywood studio owned by ViacomCBS in June or July, but “Pitbull” has yet to be informed a new date for his title defense.
“If it was my money, (and) if I were a billionaire, I would do what Bellator is doing,” Freire told MMA Fighting. “I can’t say a date that might not be cleared. ‘Oh, I’m going to rent an island.’ Is that even doable? And who are you taking to an island? How is that going to be?
“I would do just like Bellator, wait for the market to react, and when the government opens everything, when you can bring in fighters from other continents, OK. If that possibility is real, let’s have an event. There’s no debate. (UFC) is only making noise for the media, creating a mess and making money.”
UFC plans to hold UFC 249 on May 9. But a location for the pay-per-view event has yet to be announced. The way Freire sees it, Dana White’s company is pushing to keep the ball rolling despite health concerns.
“My impression is that fighters come last, right? Fulfilling contracts come first, making money, and f**k it,” he said. “Bring entertainment for those at home, and f**k the fighter if he’s going to catch the virus or die. It seems inhuman.”
“You can’t make plans,” he continued. “Promotions depend on the government (and) how will they open the market. So then say when and how they will have events and fights. I believe that if the American market slowly opens, then promotions will go back to normal.”
“Pitbull” can’t wait to get in a cage and “beat up the Portuguese” – a reference to Carvalho – but will do so when it’s safer for everyone. The 32-year-old double-champion continues to train in Natal and guarantees he’s ready.
“I’m ready – I just need to make weight,” the Brazilian said. “I’m training twice a day. The only thing I’m not doing is having contact in the gym, so I’m not sparring or training wrestling and jiu-jitsu. But I’m in great shape, fast and strong. If they say we’re cleared to go, I’ll start sparring and be ready the next day.”
Freire last defended his featherweight throne in Sept. 2019, defeating Juan Archuleta via decision less than five months after a knockout win over Michael Chandler made him the Bellator lightweight king.