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Bellator MMA on Friday returns to its familiar New England venue for Bellator 241 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Patricio Freire will headline the event and defend his 145-pound title against Pedro Carvalho in the quarterfinals of the Bellator featherweight grand prix. The co-feature sees Daniel Weichel go head-to-head with Emmanuel Sanchez for a spot in the grand prix semifinals. The rest of the main card showcases well-known fighters like Paul Daley, Matt Mitrione and Nick Newell.
Now to the Bellator 241 “Pitbull vs. Carvalho” preview:
Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix QuarterfinalPatricio Freire (30-4) vs Pedro Carvalho (11-3)
ODDS: Freire (-1000), Carvalho (+600)
Freire might be the most accomplished fighter in Bellator history. Over his near-decade-long run with the promotion, he has won two tournaments, captured the featherweight championship twice and also laid claim to the lightweight title. The current two-weight champion has the most wins and finishes in the organization’s history. The Brazilian entered the grand prix as the clear favorite despite having a target on his back. He managed to get past Juan Archuleta with a one-sided decision in the opening round. “Pitbull” is one of the most experienced fighters left in the field and owns three career victories over the remaining competitors. Freire is a pressuring counterstriker who packs serious heat in both of his hands. He patiently waits for an opening to attack his opponent, whereupon he springs forward with a series of winging hooks. He bides his time waiting for opportunities by chopping at his opponent’s legs with kicks. He marches down his opponent while looking to find his kill switch, but he has had his chin checked in several bouts. Though he is just 32 years old, “Pitbull” has sustained a lot of damage due to his being involved in a number of wars. The champion has relied on his grappling more and more in recent fights. He used his inside trip to take down the aforementioned Sanchez, while also flashing a strong top control game in his second encounter with Weichel and his confrontation with Archuleta. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt loves to attack his opponent’s neck with a tight guillotine choke in grappling exchanges. While he does not have many flaws, he has struggled to get off his back when taken down.
Despite being only 24 years old, Carvalho has already amassed a perfect 4-0 record inside the Bellator cage and finds himself challenging for the featherweight title in the quarterfinals of the grand prix. The young fighter has compiled an 11-3 professional record and currently rides a six-fight winning streak. The Portuguese standout is at an age in which fighters often make great leaps of improvement between each bout but can still make mistakes that inexperienced competitors tend to make. The SBG Ireland rep is aggressive on the feet. He likes to fight from both stances but is better from the southpaw position. He does well to not waste energy by throwing power on each strike but will instead just touch his opponent with volume until an opening to land a powerful blow presents itself. He makes the mistake of keeping his chin high in the air. Carvalho is also similar to teammate Conor McGregor, and though he holds his hands too low, his step-back counter left hand is his best strike. He throws a lot of kicks and likes to focus on working his adversary’s body with strikes. Carvalho is a weak wrestler and saw his last two opponents, Derek Campos and Sam Sicilia, take him down and briefly secure his back before he managed to escape. He makes up for this deficiency with his own slick submission game, as evidenced by the six tapout wins on his resume. The guillotine choke remains his go to maneuver. If he fails to find the fight-ending submission, Carvalho stays busy from top position by landing heavy ground-and-pound.
When the promotion held its grand prix selection show, “Pitbull” was afforded the right to pick any fighter he wanted to face in the quarterfinals. He stated that he chose Carvalho based on his ongoing feud with SBG Ireland. However, it might have more to do with the Portuguese challenger representing a good matchup for him. The two-weight champion is simply superior to Carvalho in every phase. Carvalho’s aggressive striking style should leave openings for the Brazilian’s potent counter game. Expect Freire to go home carrying the featherweight strap after finishing Carvalho with a big blow in the first round.
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