In a new interview with Stephie Haynes, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire discusses the need for more compelling match-ups, Rebney’s Bellator vs. Scott Coker’s and more.
Friday night, in Uncasville, CT, Patricky Freire, one half of the fighting Pitbull brothers, will face off against Derek Campos in a rematch that’s been three-and-a-half years in the making. It will be his 27th fight, the 19th under the Bellator banner where he’s been a dependable attraction for the last seven years, but it’s not the fight he wanted. Freire would prefer fresh meat in the cage, but if Campos is the most straightforward path to a championship bid, he’s prepared himself for battle.
In a new interview with Bloody Elbow, the elder Pitbull discusses compelling match-ups, the differences in the old, Bjorn Rebney-helmed Bellator vs. Scott Coker’s version, the problem with referees, changes he’d like to see made to the promotion and stepping back in the cage just a month after his longtime friend and BJJ master, Alexandre Bosco, took his own life. Here’s what he had to say:
Stephie Haynes: You’re fighting Derek Campos again this Friday night. He has been on a decent run since the first time you beat him. Do you see any standout improvements in his skillset that you will need to be particularly careful of?
Patricky Pitbull: I don’t think he’s improved much, but he’s been better at putting everything together and showcasing his strengths. He’s got heavy hands, so that’s what someone fighting him needs to be careful of the most.
Stephie Haynes: After this fight with Campos, who would you like next?
Patricky Pitbull: Well, I’ve prepared to win this fight, so I’m hoping that happens and I’ll fight whoever is the champion next. If not, I just hope they keep me active.
Stephie Haynes: Michael Chandler is facing Brent Primus for the title, but it doesn’t really seem as compelling as a fight with you or your brother would be. Do you feel that Bellator is looking past the Pitbull brothers, despite the fact that you both bring in good TV ratings, and if so, why do you think that is?
Patricky Pitbull: I guess it’s because our English isn’t so good and we don’t express ourselves in English that much. Living in Brazil, as well. But even with that, we get results from our way of fighting, our aggressiveness, and our personality. The fans love it and they always tune in. We have lots of interviews in English, like this one. So, it’s not like it’s such a difficult thing to achieve.
I would like them to promote me and my brother more, and I don’t get why they don’t, because in the end, it’s more their loss than ours if our star potential isn’t being maximized. Ratings are what drives the business. We’ll keep beating people up and getting our money anyway.
That said, I’ve noticed they’re doing lots of posts on social media of me for this fight, which is very good and a step in the right direction. I hope things only improve from there.
Stephie Haynes: Your brother said that his contract could be up in about a year, depending on conditional provisions. How many fights are left on your contract, and has your time with them seen any major differences between the two regimes (Bjorn Rebney era, Scott Coker era)?
Patricky Pitbull: My situation is similar to my brother’s. The new administration has really improved the feel in the arena and the production for TV. The shows are much bigger than before. The money is much higher, as well and although we aren’t always on the same page, it’s easier to talk to them. I liked the tournaments and wish they’d bring them back, but not on the previous format of one fight every month. One every two months, three at most, would be better.
Stephie Haynes: Patricio feels that he’s not getting enough fights; do you also feel like you’re on the shelf too much?
Patricky Pitbull: I do. I’m always sending them messages saying I want to fight. If I’m healthy, I’d like to fight once every two months. But if I could have at least 4 fights a year, that would be great.
Stephie Haynes: The need for a collective bargaining voice for fighters and the improvement of athlete conditions within the sport is a growing concern. Leslie Smith has been tirelessly campaigning for UFC athletes, and recently started http://www.projectspearhead.com/ . Do you feel something along those lines for Bellator fighters (or all mixed martial artists) is in the immediate future or that it should at least be a major consideration for the future?
Patricky Pitbull: I think everything that is decided that has an effect in our gains and personal lives should have the fighter’s input. Like the new weight-cutting procedures, the fighters’ pay and several other things. Everything is just imposed and we aren’t given a choice.
Stephie Haynes: We are seeing referees making errors inside the cage that could have serious consequences on fighters’ health/future. Bouts allowed to go on too long, refs that don’t see taps, refs that keep warning for fouls but never actually take points or issue DQs, standing up opponents even though they’re very active on the ground, stopping the fight too soon, etc. How concerning is it to you as a top-tier athlete that these in-cage mistakes are becoming more and more frequent?
Patricky Pitbull: I’m very worried with that. I hope I’m never again a victim of bad officiating and judging. I had wins taken away and bad referee calls that cost me. In my first fight with Chandler, the referee allowed him to hit me with low blows three times before deducting a point. One of those was right after I had hurt him. And the decision of my second fight with Derek Anderson was terrible. My brother had it even worse, with several wins being taken away by bad judging. On his second fight with Straus, he had a huge cut due to an illegal strike, took low blows, eye pokes. He had to take an entire round off because he couldn’t see. He ended up winning that one, but it was very difficult.
Every fight defines our present and future, what we’ll be and how far we can get. We only have so many opportunities. They should be held accountable and it should be possible to fix those mistakes when they happen.
Stephie Haynes: Last month, your BJJ master Alexandre Bosco, the man that awarded you your black belt and helped you become a high-level athlete, took his own life. You mentioned on your Facebook that he was the last half of your martial arts foundation, that your other coach, Bruno Gouvea, had already passed away in 2012. Will you be doing anything special to honor “The Great White dragon,” [Bosco’s Bloodsport title in Brazil]?
Patricky Pitbull: I’ll dedicate this win to him, and if I’m given a title shot after, I’ll dedicate the belt to both him and Bruno.
Stephie Haynes: Last question, and I also asked this of your brother, what changes, if any, would you like to see from Bellator this year?
Patricky Pitbull: I’d like to be fighting more. I want them to promote us more. I would love if Bellator establishes finish bonuses. Several promotions are doing it around the world already. I’ve heard about it being implemented here for a long time, but have yet to see it, so hopefully it’s done this year.
I want to see them signing new talent and boosting the weight classes, not just thinking about free agents from other big promotions, but getting those big name prospects and guys making their names on the regional circuit like so many of us who are Bellator’s foundation. To get more guys from Brazil, Russia, Japan… everywhere. If they’re good, they should be here. I have fighters on my team who would do great for Bellator and like them, there are others just waiting for an opportunity.
A big wish of mine would be to fight in Brazil again, so I hope they finally make their Brazilian debut this year. I’ve heard about it since the Bjorn days and I’m hopeful this time it can happen. Perhaps for my title fight, that would be awesome.