Patricio Freire is a fighter until the end. That’s all he wants to do. If it was up to the Bellator featherweight champion, he would defend the title on every show.
Freire, however, has been out of action since regaining the belt from Daniel Straus at Bellator 178 in April 2017, and he isn’t happy about it. He was supposed to defend his title against Daniel Weichel at Bellator 188 but had to bow out because of a series of injuries. Eight months later, Freire will return at Saturday’s Bellator 203, when he meets Weichel.
“Honestly, I don’t think a fighter should be away for so long,” Freire told Sporting News. “I think the champion needs to be active make sure to have rhythm. That’s something I’ve always asked the organization for. Unfortunately, it took the organization a long time to get me a fight. I was supposed to fight in November but I suffered a series of injuries that forced me to pull out of the fight.
“Although I was healthy and I wanted to fight sooner, it took them eight months to get me a fight again, so I have to blame the organization for that because I could have fought since January. I just hope that it doesn’t happen again and I have a more frequent schedule of defending my belt after this one.”
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Freire has been with Bellator since 2010. While he feels the relationship with the Viacom-owned promotion is on solid ground, he wishes he was valued more for what he has done. His accomplishments in the promotion are endless: one of eight two-time champions in company history, most featherweight knockouts and submissions, and second-most career victories at 14 (Michael Chandler has 15). The 31-year-old has proven to be a reliable draw, as his last two fights, vs. Straus and Benson Henderson, have peaked at more than 1 million viewers.
“My frequency of fights (has been a problem) and that’s something I keep discussing over and over with them,” Freire said. “If you see me complain about something in interviews it’s because I’ve spoken with them several times but nothing has changed. I’ve spoken with them several times about fighting. I want to be active and fighting more frequently. I think I should be the most well-paid fighter in the organization. I hold all the records. Michael Chandler now has one more win than me. After this fight, I will tie him, (and) then when I fight Chandler, I’m going to knock him out.
“I have the third-most finishes in the organization. I’m the best featherweight in the organization’s history. I have the best viewership, not counting the old legend fights. If you see my ratings when I fight, you will see my ratings are well above average. I don’t have the same promotion as the other fighters. My shows, when promoted, I get bigger numbers than some of their biggest signings.
“When they booked my last fight, they put me in Israel with a weak card no one was talking about except locally. Not many people are talking about this card, except for the fans locally, and for this card, most of the promotion has been locally and focused on the local fighters. I should be fighting on a big card in the U.S. where it will get 100 percent of the promotion, but I’m still going to do big numbers. I’m showing them I can get bigger numbers if they put some promotion behind me than I already have been getting.”
Chandler and Freire have much disdain for one another. The former lightweight champ has beaten Freire’s brother, Patricky, two times before. After their last fight in 2016, Chandler and Patricio Freire almost came to blows. They have traded insults with each other in interviews and on social media since then. Earlier this year it appeared as though they would finally get their hands on each other. Bellator president Scott Coker tried to make an interim lightweight title fight between Chander and Patricky Freire, but he was injured, so Coker went to Patricio Freire and offered him the same opportunity. Patricio jumped at the chance, but when Bellator sent the bout agreement, it was for a three-round contest and he decided to pass.
“He’s a scumbag, a cheater,” Patricio Freire angrily said. “Why would I think of him as a fighter I’d have to face him before I retire? I want to fight legends before I retire. He’s just someone I want to beat up and I can do that on the street if it comes down to it. He’s a steroid abuser that has never accomplished anything in his life without cheating. He’s someone I want to beat up, but he’s not something I lose sleep about.”
In their first outing at Bellator 138, Freire scored a second-round knockout. After this weekend, half of the Brazilian’s fights in Bellator will have been against fighters he has already faced. While Freire has no problem beating up Weichel one more time, he wants to make sure he receives some new guys to beat up on.
“Nothing against Weichel, but I keep having rematches over and over,” Freire said. “I was supposed to fight Georgi Karakhanyan when he returned to Bellator. I’ve fought Wilson Reis and Pat Curran two times and Daniel Straus four times. I’m sick and tired of rematches. I’m one of the most exciting fighters in MMA, but fans are tired of me fighting the same people over and over. I just keep knocking them out.
“There are some fresh fighters on the horizon that I hope Bellator matches me up against. A rematch isn’t something I’m looking forward to. This time I’m going to send him straight down to hell again and this time, I’m going to make sure he stays there and then no more rematches for the rest of my career.”