After regaining featherweight title at Bellator 277, what’s next for Patricio Pitbull?

Patricio Pitbull Freire

This past Friday night at Bellator 277, we saw a rematch for the featherweight title. The former champion Patricio Pitbull (33-5) was looking to regain the title from AJ McKee (18-1) after losing the title to him last July.

When these two men first fought, the fight wasn’t competitive. McKee hurt Pitbull badly on the feet and submitted him with a standing guillotine in the first round. It was a shocking fight to watch considering the promotional greatness of Pitbull.

Nobody has had more wins in Bellator than Patricio Pitbull and nobody has defended a title more than him. Entering Bellator 277, Patricio Pitbull had a 5-0 record in rematches throughout his career in the promotion.

He intended to keep that perfect rematch record on Friday night and that is exactly what he did. Pitbull came right out calm and composed while McKee came out with an aggressive posture. While McKee was looking to the knockout shot, Pitbull was touching him up with leg kicks and racking up points.

While McKee had some moments in the later rounds, Pitbull had done enough in the early rounds to get ahead on the scorecards. When the final scores were read, all three judges awarded the fight and the Bellator featherweight title to Patricio Pitbull.

What’s next after Bellator 277?

Now that Pitbull has avenged the loss to McKee, it seems like there is a clear path to his next fight. It seems rather obvious that Bellator would book the trilogy fight with AJ McKee and Pitbull to settle who is truly the best at 145.

However, after the fight was over, McKee said that he was done with featherweight. For a while, McKee has said the weight cut was getting to be too much and he wasn’t loving the idea of staying at 145. He said he would love to fight Pitbull again, but only at 155.

That is not something that Pitbull seems interested in despite being the former lightweight champion. Pitbull said that if McKee wants the trilogy, it has to happen at 145 pounds. If McKee sticks to his guns, it appears that this series will conclude with each man having won one.

If McKee isn’t next, who would the Bellator champion face off against? Well, to me there’s a clear choice. That choice would clearly be Adam Borics (18-1). Borics has won four in a row and he’s the top contender after McKee. If McKee is done at 145, it’s time for Borics to get his title shot.

Bellator 276 Preview

Saturday night, Bellator returns to action and they have a very solid fight card coming to Showtime. In the main event of the evening, two of the best featherweights in the promotion will clash over five rounds as Adam Borics (17-1) takes on Mads Burnell (16-3).

This fight has huge implications in the Bellator featherweight division. Coming up next month, AJ McKee and Patricio Pitbull will be rematching for the featherweight title. Depending on the result of that fight, whoever wins this fight at Bellator 276 could very well be next in line.

Since joining Bellator back in 2017, Adam Borics has nearly been perfect. He’s 8-1 with the lone loss coming via submission against Darrion Caldwell. Most notably, Borics has a knockout win over Aaron Pico and he looked great in his decision win over Jeremy Kennedy last April.

Mads Burnell is going to be looking to stay perfect inside the Bellator cage. After a 1-2 run in the UFC a few years back, Burnell went on a run that landed him with Bellator. After joining the promotion, he’s stormed out of the gate.

He has fought three times and won all three fights. Most notably, he defeated two-time title challenger Emmanuel Sanchez by decision. As mentioned, this main event at Bellator 276 is very likely a title eliminator at 145 pounds.

Rest of Bellator 276

In addition to the big time featherweight main event, Bellator 276 has some additional fights that fans should be paying attention to. One to look at would be the co-main event which features former light heavyweight champion Phil Davis (23-6) and Julius Anglickas (10-2).

Last time we saw Phil Davis was when he took on Yoel Romero in Romero’s Bellator debut. Davis used a wrestling heavy attack to fatigue Romero and he won a split decision although it was pretty unanimous in my opinion.

That win made him 4-1 in his last five with the lone loss coming to Vadim Nemkov. The last time we saw Anglickas was when he stepped in on short-notice to take on Vadim Nemkov at Bellator 268. Anglickas almost shocked the world when he hurt Nemkov, but he couldn’t put the champion away.

Ultimately, Anglickas fell to the champion. Now, he’s looking to take out a former champion in his first fight back. One more fight to keep your eye on is the middleweight contest between John Salter (18-5) and Johnny Eblen (10-0).

Given how shallow middleweight is, if Eblen gets the win, he could be next in line to fight Gegard Mousasi. Multiple potential title eliminators will happen at Bellator 276 which should create a fun show.

Bellator: Is 2021 finally the year of Aaron Pico?

Bellator‘s Aaron Pico (7-3) might have been the most credentialed prospect to ever make his professional debut with a major organization. Pico was an Olympic caliber wrestler and he had incredible boxing talent.

With the striking and grappling credentials he had, many believed he would instantly become a star for Bellator. However, the road has been a lot more challenging than anyone would have anticipated.

Pico was dealt a harsh dose of reality when he lost his professional debut in just 24 seconds. However, he showed very good poise in his ability to bounce back after that first professional loss at Bellator 180.

Pico would go on to win four-straight fights before running into Henry Corrales (18-5) at Bellator 214. Pico hurt Corrales bad in the opening exchanges, but he was drawn into a firefight. Corrales ended up landing a monster shot that put Pico out.

Aaron Pico would then go on to lose to Adam Borics (16-1) in his next fight. After two-straight losses, Pico made the move to Jackson-Wink for his training. That is where the career has really turned around for Pico.

Pico fought three times for Bellator in 2020 and he went a perfect 3-0. However, it was the way that he won that impressed me. He fought composed and he used all of his weapons to get the job done. Greg Jackson appears to be getting the best out of Pico.

Pico’s 2021 for Bellator

Aaron Pico recently spoke to My MMA News where he talked about his urgency to compete in 2021. He said that he wants to compete at least three or four times inside the Bellator cage this year.

When asked about potential opponents, Pico said he’s most interested in fighting the two men who’ve most recently beat him. Of course that being Borics and Corrales. In reality, those rematches do make sense for Bellator.

Pico has all of the potential to be a star for the promotion. It would be a great thing for Bellator if he was able to get those fights back and avenge those losses that he had before he made the move to Jackson-Wink.

I could see Bellator pairing Pico up against those two in 2021. One thing to keep in mind is that I don’t think 2021 will be a title year for Pico. It’s going to take a little more time and he’s been vocal about not fighting his long-time friend, AJ McKee (17-0).

McKee is in the finals of the featherweight Grand Prix and looks poised to potentially become the featherweight champion. If that was to happen, Pico already said that he wouldn’t fight McKee unless it was for life-changing money.

That being said, I don’t think 2021 needs to be a title year for Pico to do something special. In my opinion, I just want to see him continue to progress under Greg Jackson. Pico can still be a superstar for Bellator and 2021 has the potential to show that.