Patricio Freire planning eventual title chase at 135 – but says A.J. McKee trilogy looms, too

LOS ANGELES – Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire already is, arguably, the greatest fighter in the promotion’s history.

If he adds a title in a third division to his resume, the deal with be sealed for sure. And that’s just what “Pitbull” has in mind in the not-too-distant future.

“I want to defend the (145-pound) belt one more time after this fight, and try to take another belt again and become a champ-champ again,” Freire told MMA Junkie at Thursday’s Bellator 286 media day. “I want to take the (bantamweight) belt, but I have a big opponent to face – the scale. I’m not too big, but I’m strong so I have to see how it’s going to happen.”

Freire (33-5 MMA, 21-5 BMMA) on Saturday will put the featherweight title on the line against Adam Borics (18-1 MMA, 9-1 BMMA) in the Bellator 286 main event at Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, Calif. The main card airs on Showtime following prelims on MMA Junkie.

Freire will be putting his belt on the line for the first time since he won it back from A.J. McKee in April with a unanimous decision. McKee beat him in July 2021 with a first-round submission for the title.

Freire said Borics is a more than game opponent. The oddsmakers and betting public seem to agree. Freire is just a -145 favorite at Tipico Sportsbook.

“He’s a great fighter. He’s evolved from his last loss,” Freie said of Borics, who comes in with a four-fight winning streak – all decisions. “I look at him as a complete fighter. He has only one defeat by submission, and he’s evolved a lot from his last loss. He’s a great kickboxer, but has great wrestling and trains a lot of jiu-jitsu. I know he’s complete and he’s dangerous. He has good kicks, good knees, his hands are fast – I have to pay attention to that.

“I saw he’s confident with dreams in his eyes. But I’m the same.”

Down the road, Freire said it’s inevitable he’ll fight McKee for a third time. Saturday, McKee (18-1 MMA, 18-1 BMMA) is fighting at lightweight against Spike Carlyle (14-3 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) in the co-main event.

The two already had a supposed verbal run-in at media day, though Freire denied anything happened that was started by him.

“There’s still some problems to resolve,” he said. “It ain’t over. We have to do the trilogy. I want that. I’m not surprised he’s running from that division. Now he’s at lightweight, but keeps talking sh*t. I can fight him now. If he talks sh*t about me, let’s go fight now.”

Before that trilogy can happen, though, or a planned move to bantamweight to go after a third title (Freire was the first simultaneous two-division champ in Bellator history when he had the lightweight title, as well as featherweight; he vacated the 155-pound belt, which now is held by his brother Patricky), Freire knows he has to get past Borics.

“I’m prepared for 25 minutes, but nobody knows when my left hand is going to catch his chin. If it’s going to be in the first round in the first minute, he’s going to go down.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Bellator 286.