Patricio Freire still wants an immediate rematch with A.J. McKee for Bellator featherweight gold, but he loses hope every day that goes by without an official word from the company.
“Pitbull,” who dropped the 145-pound title via first-round submission back in July, decided to relinquish the lightweight championship because “it didn’t feel right” to call himself the 155-pound champion after being dethroned in a lower weight class. By doing so, he also stopped preventing his brother Patricky Freire from getting a shot at the title.
Before he entered the cage to knock out then-champion Michael Chandler in 2019, Freire announced that he would vacate the title immediately after beating the American, however Bellator didn’t allow him to do so “because they were still building the division,” he says.
Now no longer a champion in Bellator, Freire felt that vacating the belt at lightweight ended up being a smart move, in a way, because it “really forces [McKee] to defend [the featherweight] title against me” instead of McKee getting the option to face him for a second belt while remaining the featherweight titleholder in case of a loss.
Speaking on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, Freire revealed that he offered an “all-or-nothing” catchweight with both titles on the line, however McKee went radio silent on the proposition.
Bellator eventually shot it down, Freire said.
“[Bellator] sent an internal message turning it down,” Freire said. “A.J. McKee was pissed because I gave up the 155-pound title, but he didn’t respond when I called him for the all-or-nothing. He should be pissed at himself because if he had responded to that when I called him, it would create some buzz in the media, fans would talk more, and Bellator would be in under some kind of pressure [to do it].
“Maybe they would concede, maybe not, but [McKee] would have the chance to fight for the belt and become champ-champ, which is what he wanted. But he didn’t even answer me, he ignored me, so f*ck you, man. You can’t complain.”
Freire said Bellator hasn’t made a comment on his future since he officially vacated the lightweight belt on The MMA Hour, with his brother Patricky set to rematch Peter Queally for the title this Friday at Bellator 270. Freire will be in Ireland to corner his brother on Nov. 5, and isn’t sure if he’s getting the immediate rematch he wants next or not.
“Honestly, I was never hopeful that this rematch would happen,” he said. “I don’t know what was going through my mind [when I thought that]. I know I have history there [in Bellator], but right now it feels they have the right fighter. It’s a kid grown in Bellator, an American, 18-0, and [Bellator] won’t put Patricio Pitbull to end the reign of an American inside an American organization. I hope I have a chance, and I think everybody knows I deserve this title fight.”
If Bellator does opt to have McKee defend his belt against a different featherweight contender, the longtime Bellator veteran Freire wants to stay active.
“It would be very naive if I didn’t accept a different fight,” Freire said. “If A.J. is going to fight, he’ll be in rhythm, and I would be hurting myself if I didn’t accept [a fight]. A fighter gets rhythm every time he competes and the longer he stays inside the ring, and, to me, a champion is made of that. If A.J. McKee is fighting, I wanna fight right next to him, if possible on the same card.”
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