Freire, who rematches Emmanuel Sanchez on Friday at Bellator 255, plans to finish his opponent and move on to win the Bellator featherweight grand prix. But the best argument for his greatness might be in a victory from his rival Chandler if the ex-Bellator champ defeats Charles Oliveira at UFC 262.
“[Chandler winning] means the UFC is going to have to suck it up that they’ve got the second-best lightweight in the world, who lost to a guy that was coming up from a smaller weight class,” he said at a virtual media day for the event at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. “They’re going to have to realize that the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world is not from the UFC. It’s from Bellator, and his name is Patricio Pitbull.”
Winning the featherweight tourney will make Freire $1 million richer and will “prove what everybody already knows, that I’m No. 1,” he said. But no matter what he does in the Bellator cage, it’s what happens in the UFC cage that tends to determine how he’s perceived.
Freire blasted one set of rankings that had him far below Chandler, whom he knocked out to capture his second Bellator title.
“For me, those rankings are No. 1 bullsh*t,” Freire said. “I wasn’t really angry. I was just giving my opinion. It’s kind of bullsh*t that you’ve got Michael Chandler fighting for the UFC title, yet just a few months ago, I knocked him out in under a minute.
“If the second-winningest fighter is going over to Bellator and fighting for a title, it’s absurd to have the person who knocked him out at [No.] 21. What changed to make such a big separation between me and Chandler?”
The answer, of course, is the sign on the canvas surrounded by the cage. Freire will definitely be watching when Chandler takes on Oliveira, if for no other reason than to see his one-time opponent validate what he believes to be true.
The UFC brought in Chandler as a lightweight wild card when negotiations went south with its top stars. No such move would make a difference in Bellator, according to the promotion’s two-division champ.
“I’ve already beaten four to five generations of Bellator’s best fighters,” Freire told MMA Fighting. “I went up a weight class and took off the head of the greatest lightweight in history. It really doesn’t matter who they bring in. I’ll beat them all.”