Off the back of his stunning opening round submission loss to hometown hero, A.J. McKee at Bellator 263 on Saturday in Inglewood, California — lightweight champion, Patricio Freire is gunning for a rematch against the minted featherweight gold holder on his home soil next time in a promotional visit to Brazil.
Headlining the promotion’s event at The Forum, Freire saw his eye-catching seven-fight undefeated spree come to a shocking end via an opening round standing guillotine, dropping his undisputed featherweight championship to McKee — as the 26-year-old scooped the featherweight World Grand Prix to boot.
Setting up the eventual finish, Long Beach favourite, McKee launched a left high-kick which wobbled Freire, before dropping the Natal native with strikes at the fence. Seeing his celebratory performance delayed, Freire recovered, but not before McKee latched onto a standing guillotine, and after some prying, urged referee, Mike Beltran to call a halt to the bout, explaining how the Brazilian had gone unconscious.
The defeat came as Freire’s first since an August 2016 leg injury loss to former WEC and UFC lightweight champion, Benson Henderson — snapping a meteoric seven-fight undefeated run.
Still minted as the undisputed lightweight champion, Friere, who has yet to compete at 155lbs since a title crowning effort against now-UFC lightweight contender, Michael Chandler back in May of 2019 — along with his team noted their interest in meeting with McKee in a title re-run, this time in his native Brazil. McKee also shares the same willingness to meet with Freire immediately off the back of his Saturday success.
“Before the fight, I think he (A.J. McKee) told somebody something like this, and it’s a good thing,” Freire said post-fight. “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.“
As far as Freire’s coach, Eric Albarracin is concerned, a re-run between the two should be considered to headline an event on his trainee’s home soil of Brazil next time out.
“If we do something like that, this time I’d like it to be in Brazil,” Albarracin said. “This guy’s (Patricio Freire) been here for 10 years, double champ-champ, (the) winningest fighter in Bellator history, most title defences. Why are we fighting in Los Angeles? He’s the champ-champ. We’re fighting in the challenger’s hometown? Great, he (McKee) won, give it all to him — he slept in his own bed, his dad’s (Antonio McKee) a legend here, born and raised here, 99% of 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.“
“16 games in the NFL are played to get a home-field advantage, 180 in baseball,” Albarracin explained. “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 advantage, where he’s sleeping and training in his own gym. We travelled 36 hours to get here. Let’s switch it up one time.” (H/T MMA Fighting)
As part of Natal finisher, Freire’s seven-fight winning run, he had compiled a spree that included victories over Daniel Straus, Daniel Weichel, Emmanuel Sanchez (x2), Michael Chandler, Juan Archuleta, and Pedro Carvalho.