Not one but two featherweight tournament bouts are headed to Bellator 241 in March.
On Thursday, Bellator MMA announced via press release that Bellator 241 is scheduled for March 13 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Headlining the event will be a featherweight grand prix quarterfinal matchup as Patricio Freire (30-4) locks horns with Pedro Carvalho (11-3) for the 145-pound strap. Additional, the promotion announced a second tournament tilt between Daniel Weichel (40-11) and Emmanuel Sanchez (19-4) will be taking place the same night. All quarterfinals and subsequent matches will be five-round affairs, regardless of if the belt is in the line.
Freire has not lost since suffering an injury in 2016 against Benson Henderson. In that span, "Pitbull" tapped Daniel Straus to take the featherweight throne, and went on to defend it twice against Weichel and Sanchez. Moving up to lightweight, Freire knocked out Michael Chandler in just over one minute at Bellator 221 in May 2019 to capture gold at 155 pounds and become the second simultaneous two-division champ in company history. Still currently the lightweight king, the Brazilian returned to featherweight in September to snap Juan Archuleta's 18-fight win streak and defend that belt once more.
Carvalho made his way into the tournament by submitting Sam Sicilia via face crank at Bellator 226 in September. In doing so, he earned only the second submission of its kind in Bellator history, advancing to the quarterfinals in victory. The SBG Ireland prospect has yet to taste defeat in the Bellator cage, winning all four of his appearances including a knockout over Derek Campos in May 2019.
Longtime vet Weichel rebounded from two split verdict defeats in 2018 with a decision over Saul Rogers in the opening round of the featherweight grand prix. His opponent Sanchez became the first man to win against Tywan Claxton, submitting him with a triangle choke in September to advance to the quarterfinals. Sanchez has never been finished as a professional, with all four of his losses including a five-rounder against Freire have come at the hands of the judges. Sanchez and Weichel met once before at Bellator 159 in 2016, and the fighter from Germany emerged victorious by contentious split decision.