Considered by some as the best featherweight fighter in mixed martial arts today, Patricio Freire had no trouble getting past Pedro Carvalho in the quarterfinals of the 145-pound grand prix at Bellator 252 last Thursday.
After yet another impressive performance, which ended via knockout in the first round, the Brazilian champion advanced to the semifinals of the bracket. In addition to claiming the featherweight belt, the eventual winner of the tournament will emerge with a $1 million prize.
“I have told him, in our first face off in March, that I would need two minutes to beat him. Once the fight lasted two minutes and 10 seconds, I have to admit that I failed,” said Freire, who is also the promotion’s lightweight champion. “Jokes aside, Pedro is definitely a tough fighter. I was prepared for a war, but everything ended up pretty much how my team planned.”
In the semifinals of the grand prix, Freire will rematch Emmanuel Sanchez. In their first encounter two years ago, “Pitbull” won by unanimous decision and kept his belt. This time, however, the double champ does not believe he will need 25 minutes.
“I had many health problems by that time that were reflected in the fight. Actually, I felt without energy immediately in the first round . If I were 100 percent, he would not last five rounds,” Freire said. “I punished him so hard that I had a bone [bruise] in my hand. He is a pretty skilled fighter, really durable and with a big heart, but this time I´m motivated to finish the fight.”
Freire also offered a prediction for the other side of the bracket, where A.J. McKee and Darrion Caldwell will lock horns at Bellator 253 on Thursday.
“I think Caldwell will be able to control A.J. with his wrestling,” Freire said. “A.J. has always been [most] comfortable [when he can] dictate the rhythm of his fights, but Caldwell will not give him that space. [Caldwell] will test his gas tank and bring danger with his submission skills. But I won’t be surprised if A.J. gets a knockout or submission win. Both have great chances but I believe Caldwell will win.”
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