Patricio Freire wants another go.
“I prepared myself my entire life to win, to be the best,” Freire recently told MMA Junkie. “To me, winning is all that matters. I hate when people say that the important is to compete, to entertain. To be very honest with you, people may hate me for that. It doesn’t matter, but I don’t feel like I lost. I feel that that fight was taken away from me. I was denied the chance to defend my belt. What you saw from me at the press conference after the fight was genuine. I was told I had been beaten, they showed me a quick footage and I acted accordingly.”
How does Freire think he was “denied the chance” at a fair title defense? “Pitbull” points to referee Mike Beltran. Initially OK with the stoppage, Freire said his opinion of things changed upon watching the replay in the days after the fight.
“Last week, I read Justin Gaethje said (Mike) Beltran almost cost him 1 million dollars on the (Michael) Chandler fight,” Freire said. “Well, he certainly cost me that much and things that held more value than the grand prix prize itself. A few days after the fight, I got the full video (and) the replays from other angles, everything. I could see me moving my left arm and trying to position it under A.J., the referee stepping in too fast, and me trying to pull my right arm from him, covering up with the left after the break. Everything like I knew was happening, happened. I wasn’t crazy after all.
“Beltran was positioned at the wrong side, he got influenced by McKee’s yelling and gestures. Why didn’t he stay at the other side, looking at my face? Why didn’t he talk to me before stepping in?”
In Freire’s interpretation, McKee (18-0 MMA, 18-0 BMMA) himself even admitted the stoppage came a tad early because of the unprovoked release of the first-round guillotine choke.
“McKee was doing several interviews saying ‘in a few more seconds he would be out’, so was I out or was I not?” Freire said. “He admitted I wasn’t out. He played the referee.”
As for a timeline, Freire said he’s eying as soon as possible. With one event remaining in 2021, Bellator has yet to announce a single show for 2022.
“I’m ready to go whenever there’s a show,” Freire said. “January, February, whenever. I’m ready.”
If anyone in Bellator history has deserved a rematch based on their body of work, Freire thinks it’s him. A holder of various promotional records, Freire said his body of work speaks for itself.
“I hold all of the more meaningful records in Bellator and by consequence, the Featherweight division’s history,” Freire said. “No one has won as many title fights, no one has defended the title as much as I did. Everything I’ve got in this promotion, nothing was handed to me. I always had to go through the toughest path. I believe I’ve earned this rematch after everything I’ve been through and how the fight was stopped, with me neither being out nor tapping out.”