Bellator Strengthens Featherweight Pool

By Brian Knapp Jan 14, 2010
Bellator Fighting Championships turned to Brazil for its latest import.

The fledgling tournament-based promotion on Wednesday announced it had reached a long-term promotional agreement with unbeaten featherweight Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, who will compete in its Season 2 145-pound tournament. Length and financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“In Bellator Season 1, Joe Soto came from nowhere to win our featherweight tournament and a six-figure check in just 90 days,” Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney said in a release. “I believe Patricio Pitbull has the chance to do the same thing in Season 2. While he may be undiscovered by most U.S. fans, I can tell you that he is the real deal. I encourage you to go to YouTube and check him out for yourself.”

Perfect through a dozen professional fights, Freire last appeared in December, when he submitted Johnny Iwasaki with a second-round guillotine choke at a Platinum Fight Brazil event. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, spawned by the Chute Boxe Academy, has delivered 10 of his 12 career wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission. Freire, who now trains under the Nogueira brothers, joins recent additions Georgi Karakhanyan and William Romero in Bellator’s featherweight class.

“I have been waiting for the opportunity to make my international debut for a long time,” Freire, who speaks Portuguese, said through a translator. “Bellator has some outstanding featherweight fighters -- particularly Joe Soto -- and I am excited to have my chance to show America and the world what I can do in the cage.”

Bellator inked a multi-tiered television contract with Fox Sports Net, NBC and Telemundo in October, giving the promotion instant credibility and staying power. It has become a haven for some of the sport’s top young talent.

“Here in Brazil, it’s every fighter’s dream to come to the mecca for MMA -- the United States,” Freire’s manager, Ivan Canello, said. “I know that Pitbull is going to take full advantage of this opportunity.”
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