UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Bellator CEO Scott Coker agrees with featherweight champion Patricio Freire’s notion – Bellator has the best 145-pound fighter in the world.
After Freire (31-4 MMA, 19-4 BMMA) flattened SBG Ireland product, Pedro Carvalho, with punches 2:10 into Round 1, “Pitbull” proclaimed himself the true featherweight king.
“I’m not the best featherweight in Bellator. I’m the best featherweight in the world,” Freire told MMA Junkie at a post-fight news conference. “No other featherweight has my hands. I’m complete. Now, I have 11 knockouts and 11 submissions. There’s no other featherweight in the world that is as complete as I am.”
When speaking to MMA Junkie following the post-fight news conference, Coker, the Bellator president, echoed his champion’s claims and compared “Pitbull” to a former boxing world champion.
“We are lucky to have him,” Coker said. “He’s been a great fighter for us. He’s been a great ambassador for us. He was here even way before me. I’ll tell you what. I looked back and I saw a lot of his old clips over the last week, just looking around on our YouTube channels and different places. I said, ‘This guy reminds me of a young Roberto Duran’ if we had to put it in a boxing sense, right? He is a young Roberto Duran. He is not afraid of anybody. He’s going to bring it. I think he’s the best. Right now? He’s the best featherweight in the world.”
With the victory over Carvalho (11-4 MMA, 4-1 BMMA), Freire advances to the Bellator featherweight grand prix semifinal round. He’ll fight Emmanuel Sanchez, who won earlier on Thursday’s card over Daniel Weichel by unanimous decision.
“I watched (Emmanuel’s) whole fight,” Freire said. “I was warming up for my fight. Sanchez was looking good. He was very dynamic. I like his style (as) I said in the cage. But I’m better than him. He knows that.”
A specific date has not been announced for the Bellator featherweight semifinal between Freire and Sanchez (20-4 MMA, 12-3 BMMA), but Coker gave MMA Junkie a timetable of when fans can expect to see the semifinal and championship rounds happen.
“I’m going to try to get this fight into the cage as soon as we can,” Coker said. “We’d like to do the final sometime in April or May. That would be good timing I think. If we could get this fight to the cage in late January. I think that’d be ideal for us. Then you’d have February and March. April we’d have the final. It’s long overdue. Let’s put it that way.”
Bellator 252 took place Thursday at Mohegan Sun Arena. The main card aired on CBS Sports Network after prelims on MMA Junkie.