A fight can swing on one pivotal moment, and sometimes, that moment isn’t a punch, kick or takedown.
That might have been the case in the Bellator 172 main event showdown between Josh Thomson and Patricky Freire at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday night. Then again, it depends on whom you ask.
During an exchange early in the second round, Thomson appeared to be hurt by an accidental headbutt from Freire, who followed up with a left hook to drop his opponent. “The Punk” was able to return to his feet but moments later, Freire connected with a massive uppercut as Thompson shot for takedown. Two follow-up hammerfists later, Freire was punching his ticket back into 155-pound title contention.
“S--t happens. This is the game,” Thomson said at the post-fight press conference. “My mindset was to go in there and win. I could have changed a couple little things. The only difference was I thought I got hit with a headbutt first before I went down. But all that stuff aside, he was fighting a good fight before that.
“I can complain about it, but the issue I felt like it was the headbutt that got me first. I know he hit me again after that. It’s the fight game, what are you gonna do?”
Not surprisingly, Freire, who appeared to win the first round of the fight, didn’t agree with the notion that the clash of heads might have altered the course of the bout.
“ I didn’t know it was a headbutt until I saw it on an Instagram clip in the locker room,” Freire said. “I didn’t know there was a headbutt, but I don’t think that defined the fight.”
Freire wasted little time in calling out reigning lightweight champion Michael Chandler after the victory. Chandler scored a brutal knockout triumph over “Pitbull” to claim the vacant strap at Bellator 157 in June, but it sounds like he isn’t opposed to giving Freire another shot.
“Michael Chandler’s blowing up my phone,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “He’s like, ‘I want that fight. Give me that fight.’”
Meanwhile, Thomson was supposed to be on a collision course with Chandler. Instead, he is left to pick up the pieces following a disappointing defeat. However, the American Kickboxing Academy product isn’t thinking about calling it a career just yet.
“There’s really no game plan for when you lose. You go back to the drawing board, back to the gym. You rely on your coaches and your teammates to lift your ass back up and get you back in there,” Thomson said. “I’m gonna stick around. I think I’m gonna have a couple more in me. There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be done. I felt great in there tonight. I wasn’t breathing heavy. I can’t say there was any ring rust. I actually felt amazing.”
That good feeling changed in a matter of seconds, as it so often does in the fight game.
“We banged heads pretty hard. It definitely rocked me,”Thomson said. “It is what it is.”