Patricio Freire, Coach Interested in Rematch with A.J. McKee in Brazil for Lightweight Title

By Tristen Critchfield Aug 1, 2021


After a disappointing loss to A.J. McKee in the Bellator 263 headliner, Patricio Freire was already looking forward to next his professional appearance.

“I am always motivated. My debut was in 2004, and now I have a lot of years fighting and dedicating myself to this game, and I am hungry every time,” Freire said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference (video via MMAFighting.com).

“I spent a lot of years without being defeated, and today is a new day for me. It’s a different kind of feeling, and I want to rest a little bit, enjoy my son, my wife. But I will come back stronger. I know that. Everyone says that when they get a defeat, but I am different.”

Freire was rocked by a head kick and then dropped by punches near the fence before McKee locked in the fight-ending guillotine choke 1:57 into the first round to capture the featherweight crown. “Pitbull” had no issue giving credit to the new champion.

“On this night, he was great,” Freire said. “He kicked my head, and he almost knocked me out, and he almost finished me. He was good, congratulations.”

After the win, McKee admitted that a move to 155 pounds was likely in his future. That could mean a rematch with Freire, who remains the promotion’s reigning lightweight champion.

“Before the fight I think he told somebody something like this, and it’s a good thing,” Freire said. “He beat me in the featherweight division. I know he’s big, he has trouble cutting weight. And let’s think about it. I have a belt. I’m still a world champion.”

Freire was accompanied to the post-fight press conference by his coach, Eric Albarracin, who laid out some ideal terms for a potential lightweight title defense against McKee.

“If we do something like that, this time I’d like it to be in Brazil,” Albarracin said. “This guy’s been here for 10 years, double champ-champ, winningest fighter in Bellator history, most title defenses. Why are we fighting in Los Angeles? He’s the champ-champ. We’re fighting in the challenger’s hometown? Great, he won, give it all to him — he slept in his own bed, his dad’s a legend here, born and raised here, he’s born and raised here, 99 percent of the fans cheering for A.J., we’re in his house. Yet [Freire] is double champ-champ? Great, he won. Let’s do it in Brazil next. For one time, bring it to Brazil for the champ.

“Sixteen games in the NFL are played to get a home field advantage, 180 in baseball,” Albarracin continued. “He’s the world champ-champ. You ask a warrior, ‘Hey, where you want to fight?’ They say anywhere, any time. But obviously not in the home town of the challenger, giving him all the advantages — the youth, the range, the reach, and then throw all the home field advantage, where he’s sleeping and training in his own gym. We traveled 36 hours to get here. Let’s switch it up one time.”

Not surprisingly, Freire was on board with his Albarracin’s suggestion.

“That’s why he’s my coach,” Freire said. “I need someone like him. He’s right, I agree.”

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