Daniel Weichel has refused to get caught up in Patricio Freire’s online allegations of PED use ahead of what he feels will be the highlight of his 16-year professional MMA career.
Following his TKO loss to the champion back in 2015, Weichel is set to rematch “Pitbull” for the Brazilian’s featherweight title this Saturday night in Rome, Italy in the main event of Bellator 203.
The German fighter commented on Freire’s accusation at the time, but insists he completely forgot about the Brazilian’s tirade as soon as the moment passed.
“It’s nothing that I can understand easily because I like to respect him as a great fighter and that’s how I look at him given that he’s the challenge that I have in front of me,” Weichel told MMA Fighting.
“I really couldn’t take it seriously when it happened, so I just forgot about it. As soon as the moment was gone, it was out of my head. I try to be humble. I try to show respect to everyone. Even if someone says a strange thing like that, I try to understand why it’s happening and where it comes from.”
It looked as though Weichel was on the verge of stopping Freire in their first meeting. He rocked the defending titleholder with a knee towards the end of the first round, but was later finished in the second.
As far as Weichel is concerned, Freire is still basically the same fighter he was back when they first met.
“He changed his style a little bit, but every fighter has a way of moving and you can only change it partly,” Weichel said. “I think he did change some things, but he’s still got the same natural movements that he always had.”
While he acknowledges that he, too, probably moves in a similar fashion to how he did three years earlier, Weichel is confident that the new strings he’s added to his bow will offer significant challenges for Freire.
“For me, the big difference is having a desire and passion for mixed martial arts,” Weichel said, “rather than just showing up for training camps. I always want to improve so I never stop working. I love being in the gym and training. My focus is always on improving.
“Three years is a long time and we’ve put a lot of work in over that time. I really feel way different now. My movements might be very similar than they were before, but I’ve added lots of stuff; I have a lot more transitions now and I think I have an overall better feel for distance. Those things make a big difference.
“I have envisaged the win so many times,” added Weichel. “I am so confident in my skill set. Whatever happens; if I submit him, if I knock him out or if we got to war, I don’t care, but I know I’ll have my hand raised.”
After 16 years as a professional, Weichel thinks winning the Bellator title would be the highlight of his career.
“This title is part of my journey,” he said. “I don’t want to look at this like my biggest achievement because I want to go further. I know this would be the highlight of my career, but I don’t want to think of it as too big of a thing because I want to go even further. Yes, it’s the highlight of my career, but I really enjoyed each and every fight of this journey. They’ve all made me what I am today.”