Patricio Freire set some new records in Bellator, and wonders what’s next for him.
The featherweight champion was successful in his title defense on Nov. 15, defeating Emmanuel Sanchez via unanimous decision at Bellator 209. In the process, “Pitbull” now owns records for most wins in title fights (six), becoming the winningest fighter in Bellator history, with 16.
Yet, Freire wasn’t that happy with his performance.
“It was a tough fight, but the belt is here with us,” Freire told MMA Fighting. “Many people said it was a good fight, but I didn’t like it. I think my performance could have been better. I was hit too much. I won, no excuses, but I could have done better.”
The next step for him is still unclear, though. Rising star Aaron Pico has been doing a great job so far in MMA and Freire would be down to fighting him, but doesn’t expect Bellator to grant Pico a shot at the gold just yet.
“It appears to me that A.J. McKee should be next,” Freire said. “He has 12 wins, all of them in Bellator. He has earned it. He hasn’t faced many top (contenders), he just beat a tough Brazilian, John ‘Macapa’ (Teixeira) with an impressive knockout, but I don’t know.”
With Bellator being open to the idea of promoting tournaments again, including one at welterweight that has 170-pound champion Rory MacDonald on the bracket, Freire wonders if that’s the plan for the featherweights.
“Something will happen in my division, but they aren’t talking. I suspect it’s a grand prix,” Freire said. “I’m not sure, they aren’t giving me any news about that. I ask them who’s next and they don’t say anything, so I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
”Pitbull” has always mentioned the idea of moving up or down in weight for superfights, and challenging the lightweight belt — especially if Michael Chandler reclaims the gold in his rematch with Brent Primus on Dec. 14 — is an idea he would welcome in a heartbeat.
“Brent Primus will fight Chandler now and as far as I know, my brother (Patricky Freire) is next in line, but my brother doesn’t want to wait too long either,” Freire said. “I don’t know what Bellator has planned for us.”
“Speaking specifically of Michael Chandler, we can fight right now, no problem. I’d fight him even he’s not the champion,” he continued. “I think Bellator lost timing with this fight, they could have done it when he was champion. And I don’t think he wins (against Primus).”
After two title defenses in five months, ”Pitbull” is taking some time off to heal his body and hopes to be back around April or May. He might even go under the knife later this year to fix a shoulder injury, but it still waiting for a doctor’s call to decide whether or not he needs surgery.
In the meantime, Bellator can figure out who gets the next crack at the featherweight championship.
“It depends on the challenge,” Freire said when asked what he would rather do next, a superfight or a 145-pound tournament. “A grand prix would be good because, even though I have cleaned the division a few times, there are some names people talk about, like A.J. McKee and Aaron Pico, so they would have the chance to fight me in the tournament. I believe they would bring some other names to the tournament, even guys from 155 that can make 145.”