Patricio Pitbull built his career under the Bellator umbrella for more than a decade as one of the best featherweights on the planet, but his time with the promotion was almost over before it had begun.
Bellator, which is now led by former Strikeforce president Scott Coker, was previously helmed by Bjorn Rebney, and Pitbull wasn’t happy with the way the organization treated him and his brother Patricky Pitbull back in 2012.
Pitbull was scheduled to challenge then-champion Pat Curran for the 145-pound belt after winning his second featherweight grand prix when his brother was approached with an offer to face former lightweight titleholder Eddie Alvarez in October of that year.
Speaking on a recent edition of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, Pitbull said Bellator offered to help pay for his brother’s camp to have him beat Alvarez, but the deal didn’t work out as expected.
“Bellator called us to talk and said, ‘It’s Eddie Alvarez’s last fight and he’ll leave the organization and we’re putting [Patricky] to beat him up. We’ll help you,” Pitbull said. “To sum it up, it was basically like, ‘We’ll put Patricky to beat up Eddie Alvarez because we know Patricky is a badass and won’t back out, and we’ll help you in your camp, whatever you need.’ Cool, [but] that didn’t happen and Patricky got knocked out.
“No problem, we understand it, the organization has its costs and everything. My brother was knocked out in the fight, the first knockout loss of his career, and when he went there to get his purse, they invented a bunch of stuff to deduct and Patricky left with a miserable check. Like, he should have gotten paid like $15,000, I don’t know how much it was, and left with $3,000, $2,500, something like that. Almost nothing. And still had to pay the gym, manager, had to pay for all that.
“I was pissed. It was one of the first things I said. ‘Brother, these guys are a bunch of clowns, f*ck them, I wanna leave this sh*t.’ That was one of the reasons. And other things I can’t remember right now, but that’s one [reason] I have printed in my head.”
Pitbull never asked for his release, and Alvarez eventually left Bellator after avenging a loss to Michael Chandler for the Bellator lightweight belt in his next bout, putting an end to a long dispute with the company. Rebney left Bellator in June 2014.
Bellator is “a completely different organization” now and Pitbull is “completely satisfied” with the way he’s treated by Coker and the entire team, he said. Yet, the former two-division champion doesn’t rule out completing his contract and testing the market in then future depending on how things go, especially in regards to a rematch with A.J. McKee, “an undefeated American built in house, [Bellator] might give him some type of priority.”
Yet, the way things are going in the UFC doesn’t get him super excited.
“There’s this possibility [of testing the market and] experimenting a new platform,” he said, “but when I stop to analyze the moment and see what UFC fighters are complaining about… The champion is complaining about money, Corey Anderson went to Bellator because he wasn’t well-paid, many others are coming here and going to other organizations [after] complaining about that.
“When I stop and think about it, the UFC is a big company, it’s the biggest because it’s the most traditional and it’s been around in the market and built a very intense career so it’s more recognized than the others, but the sun shines for everybody and other organizations are getting there. Some are showing more love to fighters.
“But the future belongs to God. I don’t say no, I like challenges. I’d really like to see cross-promotion fights but I know that won’t be possible anytime soon. We’re happy where we are. If one day I realize I’m not welcome at Bellator anymore, I’ll leave right away. I believe that the friendship I have with them, even under contract, if I ask for it, they would let me go.”
Pitbull is hoping to face McKee in an immediate rematch for the featherweight championship after being submitted by the undefeated talent this past July, his first loss in five years.