In the past, Patricio Freire didn’t always seem to appreciate the rising star of Conor McGregor.
Prior to McGregor’s win over Dennis Siver, for example, Bellator MMA’s former featherweight king criticized media rankings that listed “The Notorious” one ahead of him.
“You’ve got Conor McGregor that’s ranked higher than me, and he’s just a s--t talker,” Freire said during a January 2015 interview interview on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show.
At the time, Freire predicted that should McGregor work his way to a 145-pound title shot against Aldo, that he’d be “embarrassed in front of the world.” Of course, that is not how things turned out, as McGregor ended Aldo’s lengthy reign in a mere 13 seconds.
Now, McGregor is under scrutiny for his pursuits outside of the featherweight division. Rather than defend the belt he won in December, the Dublin native will rematch Nate Diaz in the UFC 200 headliner on July 9 in Las Vegas in a welterweight bout. McGregor has reportedly been “obsessed” with avenging his UFC 196 loss to Diaz, which has put the entire 145-pound weight class on hold.
Still Freire, who has designs on getting back featherweight gold after losing the title to Daniel Straus at Bellator 145, can’t blame McGregor for making the decision he made. According to “Pitbull,” McGregor’s quick finish of Aldo at UFC 194 spoke volumes.
“I think he did the right thing. If Conor thinks the [greater] challenge at lightweight or at welterweight and he thinks that’s what’s in store and that’s what he wants to do, kudos to him,” Freire recently told Sherdog.com. “That’s what he has to look for. He already beat Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. Aldo was undefeated for 10 years in the weight class, so he doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone anymore.”
Freire can relate to wanting to avenge defeat, too. While he will face Henry Corrales at Bellator 153, the Brazilian fully expects have another date with Straus somewhere down the line. In that sense, he understands McGregor’s obsession. Freire also recognizes that McGregor-Diaz 2 will do big business.
“If his heart wanted his revenge and he wants to make more money, it’s the best for him to do this [rematch],” Freire said. “Congratulations. I approve of that."