A second consecutive Bellator MMA card has lost its main event in the run-up to the show.
Bellator featherweight champ Patricio “Pitbull” Freire has withdrawn from his Thursday title rematch with Daniel Weichel at Bellator 188 due to injury. Israel-based MMA journalist Ram Gilboa first reported the withdrawal Sunday on Twitter.
Bellator 188 takes place this Thursday at the Menora Mivtachim Arena Arena in Tel Aviv and airs on Spike via tape delay on Friday.
A constellation of training injuries, a knee injury chief among them, forced the Brazilian to pull out of the contest. Bellator 187 on Nov. 10 in Dublin, Ireland, was set to be headlined by a featherweight contest between James Gallagher and Jeremiah Labiano, but Gallagher was injured prior to the bout and Labiano was moved into a bout with Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Noad Lahat for Bellator 188. The Labiano-Lahat bout will now headline this Thursday's card in Tel Aviv.
“A couple months ago due to a training accident I suffered a serious injury and started treating it immediately,” Freire wrote on his Instagram. “I had to stop training for a few weeks and then I was able to start with several limitations. But due to those, other parts of my body were overcharged and new injuries kept piling up.”
“I’ll have to take 30 days off and then I’ll be able to start training again,” Freire continued. “I plan to fight in February at the latest and defend my belt against Daniel Weichel.”
The 30-year-old Freire regained the Bellator featherweight title and began his second reign in April, choking out rival Daniel Straus in their fourth bout. In his first reign as Bellator champ, Freire knocked out Weichel in the second round of their June 2015 encounter.