It has always been Patricky Freire’s dream to fight in Japan, and he will finally get to check that off his bucket list in two weeks.
On Oct. 12, “Pitbull” will enter the Rizin FF lightweight grand prix. He is scheduled to meet former UFC fighter Tatsuya Kawajiri in the opening round of the tournament at Rizin FF 19 in Osaka, Japan.
“Before I started MMA, I watched a lot of Pride, so it’s my dream to fight there,” Freire told Bloody Elbow last week in Los Angeles ahead of his brother Patricio’s fight at Bellator 228.
“I like the fan behavior. And the fighters are the like the spirit of the samurai. I also like the Japanese culture.”
Fighters in Asia-based promotions compete under a different ruleset than the one used by most western shows like the UFC and Bellator. Some of the different rules include the legality of soccer kicks and knees to the head of a grounded opponent.
Freire is looking forward to having more tools to work with in his fight with Kawajiri.
“I fought before the same rules, I think seven fights,” Freire said. “I have three wins with soccer kicks. It’s OK. I don’t have a problem with this. Now, I need a little bit of fun.”
It will be a longer trip to Japan than what he’s used to making for his fights, and Freire admitted he’s a bit worried about that.
“It’s a long time,” Freire said. “It’s 12 hours different from Brazil. I’m scared for that.”
But a long flight wasn’t going to stop Freire from getting the opportunity to fight in Japan.
“I will go to kill, to fight, to make my dream,” he said.
Freire plans to return to Bellator after the Rizin tournament is over. Inspired by Kyoji Horiguchi, he said he hopes to win titles in both Rizin and Bellator. But his brother Patricio is the Bellator lightweight champ, so it’s unclear what would happen in the scenario that Patricky deserved a 155-pound title shot. Patricio is currently competing in the Bellator featherweight grand prix, but has said he would like to defend both of his titles moving forward.
When asked about Kawajiri, Freire immediately called him a “big name.” He seemed happy with the opening-round matchup he received.
“I have a lot of respect for him,” Freire said. “But it’s my job. I want to go there and kick his head like a samurai.”