The most prolific fighter in Bellator MMA history may have nailed down another shot at the undisputed lightweight championship.
Patricky Freire chewed up and spit out Derek Campos in the Bellator 194 co-headliner, as he discarded the well-regarded Mohler MMA representative with first-round punches on Friday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Campos succumbed to blows 2:23 into Round 1, his four-fight winning streak having run its course.
“Pitbull” fought at a measured and purposeful pace, probed for weaknesses and unleased his hands. Freire floored his counterpart with a clean left hook, followed with an uppercut and then cut loose. Campos retreated but could find no refuge inside the cage, inevitability slowly closing in around him. Freire fired away with uppercuts and hooks, drove the Texan to all fours and drew the curtain without throwing another punch. Upon seeing Campos’ turtled condition, referee Kevin MacDonald called for the stoppage to prevent unnecessary damage.
Freire now holds a 2-0 edge in the head-to-head series between the two lightweights. He had stopped Campos with punches in the second round of their Bellator 117 encounter in April 2014.
In the aftermath of Bellator 194 “Mitrione vs. Nelson 2,” here are four matches that ought to be made:
Patricky Freire vs. Brent Primus-Michael Chandler winner: Since being knocked out by Chandler in a showdown for the vacant lightweight crown a little less than two years ago, Freire has rattled off consecutive victories against Campos, Benson Henderson and Josh Thomson. It looks as if he has done enough to warrant another crack at Bellator gold. A company man if there ever was one, Freire ranks first on Bellator’s all-time list in appearances (19) and finds himself tied for fourth in victories (12). Primus will defend the lightweight championship in a rematch with Chandler at Bellator 197 on April 13.
Matt Mitrione vs. Ryan Bader-Muhammed Lawal winner: Mitrione minimized danger and maximized opportunity in his latest outing, as he picked up a majority decision over Roy Nelson in the 2018 Bellator heavyweight grand prix quarterfinals. Still showing signs of improvement at the age of 39, “Meathead” built a commanding two-rounds-to-none lead before surviving a harrowing ordeal in the third, where he was pinned beneath Nelson in the mounted crucifix. Mitrione has compiled a perfect 4-0 record since arriving in Bellator in June 2016. Bader and Lawal will square off in the tournament quarterfinals at Bellator 199 on May 12.
Vadim Nemkov vs. Linton Vassell: No one did more to improve his stock at Bellator 194 than Nemkov, who systematically dismantled former light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary before dispatching him with leg kicks in the third round. The Rizin Fighting Federation veteran was the vastly superior striker and managed to evade McGeary’s notoriously treacherous guard whenever the action spilled onto the floor. Nemkov, 25, has rattled off four straight wins, all of them finishes, and figures to keep his fellow 205-pound contenders up at night for the foreseeable future. Vassell last competed at Bellator 186 on Nov. 3, when he wound up on the wrong side of a second-round technical knockout against the aforementioned Bader.
Tywan Claxton vs. Gaston Bolanos: Bellator matchmakers have taken their time with Claxton -- and wisely so. The promotion appears to have a special talent on its hands with the undefeated Strong Style Fight Team prospect. Claxton, 25, improved to 2-0 in his sophomore appearance with the company, as he grinded down Jose Antonio Perez before stopping him with elbows and punches in the second round. Bolanos last fought at Bellator 189, where he knocked out Rick Gutierrez with a spinning back elbow just 72 seconds into their Dec. 1 encounter.