At Bellator 70, Luis Alberto Nogueira advanced to the finals of the promotion’s bantamweight tournament with a third-round TKO victory over Hiroshi Nakamura. “Betao” will face fellow Brazilian Marcos Galvao for the tournament championship at a date to be determined. At the conclusion of the event, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney brought more good news for the South American country.
Rebney finally announced the date of the featherweight title duel between Patricio "Pitbull" Freire and Pat Curran. The Brazilian faces the champion at Bellator 73 on August 24; the venue has yet to be announced for the event. Freire has recovered from the fractures in his hand that kept him out of the cage for a year and is currently training with Team Nogueira in Rio de Janeiro along with several cast members from “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.”
"I'm in Natal; I came to receive an award here. I will return to Rio in the first week of June. I’m training at Team Nogueira with my partners [Anistavio Medeiros de Figueiredo] and [Rony Mariano Bezerra]. I do all my camp in Rio. It’s been a long time since I had a fight, but I was training," Pitbull recently told Sherdog.com.
During his extended layoff, Freire has had more time to evaluate Curran, who captured the 145-pound strap with a third-round knockout of Joe Warren in March. The Illinois native earned his shot at Warren by advancing through the promotion’s 2011 Summer Series featherweight tournament, defeating Luis Palomino, Ronnie Mann and Marlon Sandro in succession.
"He’s a technical guy and knows when to finish the fight. He keeps the pace until he gets the knockout, and he’s very strategic," explained Freire. "My strategy is to hit and move, to not let Curran get close to me. I will train everything, but I will focus on striking, [especially] punches and elbows. I want to get this belt with a knockout."
If Pitbull is able to take the featherweight belt from Curran, the Brazilian already has a challenger in line. Daniel Straus recently made his way through the promotion’s Season 6 featherweight bracket and awaits the Curran-Freire winner. Freire, who defeated Straus in the Season 5 featherweight finals to secure a shot at Curran, considers the Ohian to be an even more difficult opponent than the current champion.
"I beat Strauss, but the fight was hard. He likes to get takedowns and keep the fight in the clinch. He's harder to face than Curran because he likes to tie-up, and he is a southpaw, which complicates things,” Freire said.
Allan Oliveira contributed to this report