Patrício Pitbull Secures Legacy with Win Over McKee

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Patrício Freire, better known as Patrício Pitbull will look to defend the Bellator Featherweight World Title on Saturday against undefeated star, AJ McKee. This bout will close out the long-standing Featherweight World Grand Prix. With the title and $1 million on the line, Pitbull will certainly look to cement his legacy as one of Bellator’s most accomplished mixed martial artists.

Patrício Pitbull Could Secure Legacy at Bellator 263

Pitbull made his professional debut in 2004, notching a 12-0 record before debuting in Bellator at Bellator 15. Pitbull picked up two straight wins under the Bellator banner before suffering his first professional loss to Joe Warren at Bellator 23 in the Bellator Season Two Featherweight Tournament Final.

Patrício would bounce back and win the Bellator Season Four Featherweight Tournament after defeating Georgi Karakhanyan, Wilson Reis, and Daniel Straus. At Bellator 85, Pitbull would challenge Pat Curran for the featherweight title. Pitbull would go on to suffer the second loss of his career, losing by split decision.

The Redemption and Rise of Patrício Pitbull

After falling short of the featherweight “top of the mountain” (if you will), Pitbull returned to action on July 31, 2013, at Bellator 97 facing Jared Downing. Pitbull earned a highlight reel finish over Downing and entered the Bellator Season Nine Featherweight Tournament in his next fight against Diego Nunes.

Pitbull returned yet again to the tournament final to face Justin Wilcox after defeating Fabrício Guerreiro in the semifinal. The Brazilian would make quick work of Wilcox, earning a TKO victory in the first round. At Bellator 123, Pitbull challenged Pat Curran for the featherweight world title for the second time. This time, it would be Pitbull earning a unanimous decision victory and claiming for the first time, the Bellator Featherweight World Championship.

Battles with Daniel Straus

Pitbull would look to make his first title defense at Bellator 132 against Daniel Straus. The pair met back at Bellator 45—a fight Pitbull would win by unanimous decision. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt would defeat Straus by submission via rear naked choke in the fourth round in a highly competitive matchup.

At Bellator 138, Pitbull would welcome Daniel Weichel, the Bellator Season Ten Featherweight Tournament Winner, in his second title defense. Although suffering a knockdown in the first round, Pitbull bounced back to knock out Weichel in the second.

At Bellator 145, Pitbull would meet Daniel Straus for a third time—a rare event considering Straus had not won either of their previous two bouts. Straus would go on to dethrone Pitbull by earning a unanimous decision victory after five rounds.

Regaining the Title

After his title loss, Pitbull would face Henry Corrales at Bellator 153 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Pitbull would secure a guillotine choke in the second round, submitting Corrales to earn his twenty-fifth professional victory. At Bellator 160, Pitbull would face Bellator newcomer, Benson Henderson in a lightweight contest. Pitbull himself would waive off the contest in the second round citing a leg injury. This TKO loss would be the first of his career. It would later be determined that Pitbull broke his shin.

Despite the loss, Pitbull would return to featherweight to challenge Daniel Straus for the 145-lb. title in the main event of Bellator 178. Pitbull would lock up a guillotine choke in round two to successfully reclaim the Bellator Featherweight World Title.

Winning Streak and Domination

Patrício would defend his featherweight title twice in 2018 at Bellator 203 and Bellator 209. On May 11, 2019, Pitbull would challenge Michael Chandler for the Bellator Lightweight Championship. Pitbull would go on to stop Chandler early in the first round to become a two-division champion.

At Bellator 228, Pitbull squared off with Juan Archuleta in the opening round of the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix. Pitbull would go on to earn a unanimous decision victory. At Bellator 252, Pitbull would knock out Pedro Carvalho early in the first round to move onto the grand prix semifinal. On April 2, 2021, at Bellator 255, Pitbull would earn his 12th submission victory by knocking out Emmanuel Sanchez by way of guillotine choke.

Securing a Legacy

Pitbull’s career is about as complete as they come. With over 17 years of competition and 32 victories, including 2 tournament wins, 2 reigns as Bellator Featherweight Champion, 1 reign as Bellator Lightweight Champion, and about a dozen promotional records, there is not much for Pitbull to prove. Perhaps this is Pitbull’s last hurrah. With a win over McKee, he goes out on his own terms, and is not ushered out by a new era of featherweights. Whatever the results of Bellator 263, there is no denying Patrício Pitbull’s outstanding career.

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Brian Knight is a contributing writer and active editor for MMASucka since November 2020. He is currently authoring his first book.

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