Is Bellator’s Patricio Pitbull on the same level as Alexander Volkanovski?

Last weekend at Bellator 255, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (32-4) choked out Emmanuel Sanchez in the first round of their title fight. The matchup was also the semi-final matchup in Bellator‘s Featherweight Grand Prix.

After the fight, Patricio Pitbull and his management have talked about how he’s the best featherweight in the world. They told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani this week that they are more than willing to take on the UFC champion, Alexander Volkanovksi (22-1).

A huge feather in the cap of Pitbull is his knockout of Michael Chandler. Chandler is getting ready to challenge for the vacant UFC lightweight championship and Pitbull knocked him out in the first round after catching him with a looping hook around the ear.

Granted, the stoppage was premature in my opinion, but nevertheless, that’s how Patricio Pitbull became a two-division Bellator champion. With that said, is Patricio Pitbull on the same level or is he even better than the best the UFC has to offer?

Bellator vs UFC

This is yet another time where we are comparing the two biggest MMA promotions. Is Bellator on the same level as the UFC? 99% of the time the answer to that question is going to be an emphatic no.

However, Patricio Pitbull is a very special fighter and many believe he is one of if not the best featherweight in the world. At the same time, I think it’s very important to remember the competition level here.

Let’s take a look at the last four wins for the UFC champion. Volkanovski has defeated Max Holloway twice, Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. That is quite astonishing considering how great all three of those fighters are.

The last five wins for the Bellator champion include Emmanuel Sanchez twice, Juan Archuleta, Pedro Carvalho, and Michael Chandler. Archuleta is the bantamweight champion and Carvalho and Sanchez are not on par with UFC competition.

I will give the Bellator champion all the credit in the world for the Chandler win. That is by far the best win of his career. However, I just can’t say that Patricio Pitbull is better or even on the same level as Alexander Volkanovski.

ESPN’s divisional rankings have this one right. They have the Bellator champion in fourth behind Volkanovski, Max Holloway, and Brian Ortega. I think that’s where he should be. I believe he could be a top five fighter in the UFC, but in my opinion, he wouldn’t be the best.

Patricio Pitbull’s next title defense means a lot for him and Bellator

Patricio Pitbull Freire

Last weekend at Bellator 255, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (32-4) defended his featherweight title against Emmanuel Sanchez (20-5). The fight was a semifinal matchup in Bellator‘s Featherweight Grand Prix, but the title was also on the line.

The two met for the first time back in 2018 and Pitbull walked away with a decision win. Since 2017, Pitbull had been the only man to have defeated Sanchez inside the Bellator cage.

Sanchez made the walk on Friday night having gone 7-1 in his last eight fights. Many, including myself, thought he was going to give Pitbull a run for his money. The first fight was relatively close, but the second fight was anything but.

At Bellator 255, we saw an extremely patient Pitbull. He waited for Sanchez to engage and when he did, Pitbull blasted him with powerful counters. At one point, Sanchez went for a kick and ate a left hook for his troubles.

That left hook sat him down, but he got right back up and engaged. The problem was he went right into the guillotine choke of Bellator‘s two-division champion. Pitbull tightened the choke and put Sanchez to sleep setting up the finale that everyone has been wanting to see.

Bellator’s dream scenario has played out

When Bellator unveiled the Featherweight Grand Prix, fans everywhere wanted to see one matchup in particular. That matchup would feature Patricio Pitbull and the undefeated superstar, AJ McKee (17-0).

Like Patricio Pitbull, McKee dominated his way to the finals of the Grand Prix. McKee has spent his entire career with Bellator and he’s finally getting his shot at the title. The 25 year old is looked at as arguably the best young fighter in the sport.

When these two fighters face off, it’s a massive deal for Bellator. Patricio Pitbull is the greatest fighter to have ever laced up the gloves in Bellator. The two-division champion holds the most wins and he’s the most decorated in terms of championships.

AJ McKee is a homegrown star, but he’s a star that has extremely high aspirations. McKee has been vocal that he’s keeping an eye on the top guys over in the UFC. The Mercenary also said that he only has two fights left on his current Bellator contract.

With that in mind, this fight becomes a big deal for Bellator. If McKee wins, he would be the featherweight champion with only one fight left. McKee has said that if he beats Pitbull, he wants them to rematch at lightweight so he can try to become a two division champion.

While that might be great in theory for Bellator, it’s actually a nightmare scenario. The UFC would likely pry McKee away and he would walk away as an undefeated two-division champion.

Meanwhile, Patricio Pitbull has no desire to leave Bellator. He is the face of the promotion and he just signed a new deal recently. While McKee is the future, it would probably be best for Bellator if Patricio Pitbull walks away victorious when they fight.

Bellator 255 Preview: Patricio Pitbull – Emmanuel Sanchez 2

Patricio Pitbull Freire

Tomorrow night, Bellator will finally return for their first fight night of 2021. In the main event of the evening, two-division champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (31-4) will be defending his featherweight title against Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4).

This matchup is a rematch from their first fight at Bellator 209 back in late 2018. That night, Sanchez was able to push Pitbull hard, but ultimately he couldn’t outwork the great Pitbull and Patricio Pitbull scored a decision win.

This matchup is for the featherweight title, but it’s also a semi-final matchup in the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix. The winner of this fight will take on the unbeaten AJ McKee in the finals later this year.

Patricio Pitbull is arguably the best fighter in Bellator history. The two-division champion is riding a six-fight win streak that includes a win over UFC lightweight contender, Michael Chandler.

Emmanuel Sanchez seems to be peaking at just the right time. After his failed attempt to defeat Pitbull back in 2018, Sanchez has won three fights in a row. His last win came at Bellator 252 and he looked extremely impressive in a decision win over Daniel Weichel.

Bellator 255 Prediction

Patricio Pitbull is a massive favorite to retain his Bellator featherweight title. I’ve seen some lines creep up to -400 and even as great as Pitbull is, I think those lines are a little off.

Yes, Pitbull won the first matchup, but Emmanuel Sanchez had his moments. Sanchez was able to win rounds against the Bellator champion and I think he’s even better than he was the first time.

Sanchez has very good cardio, offensive wrestling, and his boxing has looked really good as of late. I’m a big fan of his straight right hand. If he’s aggressive tomorrow night, he will stay in the fight just with his activity.

It’s hard to find a weakness in the game of the two-division Bellator champion. Pitbull is good on the ground and he has dynamite in his hands. The champion is dangerous everywhere, but we have seen him struggle if a wrestler can take him down and hold him.

A key for Sanchez tomorrow night could be a high striking pace and some timely takedowns. If he can do that, I think he can pull the upset at Bellator 255. However, that’s an extremely tall order.

Patricio Pitbull is one of the best fighters in the world regardless of promotion. There’s a reason he’s the two-division Bellator champion and I think he narrowly holds onto the featherweight title tomorrow night. However, I’m expecting a war between these two.

Prediction: Patricio Pitbull by Unanimous Decision

Bellator books Patricio Pitbull – Emmanuel Sanchez 2

Patricio Pitbull Freire

Bellator MMA officially announced the date for their final semi-final matchup in their Featherweight Grand Prix. The promotion announced today that Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (31-4) will defend his featherweight championship against Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4) on April 2nd.

This matchup had already been predetermined with the Grand Prix bracket, however, we finally have a date for this matchup. This title fight will headline Bellator‘s first event back in 2021.

The winner of this matchup will carry the featherweight title into the Grand Prix finale to face AJ McKee. These two men have history and they faced off back in 2018 at Bellator 209.

That night, Patricio Pitbull successfully defended his featherweight title by winning a unanimous decision. Pitbull hasn’t lost inside the Bellator cage since 2016 when he lost to Benson Henderson due to a leg injury.

If you want to take out that loss, nobody has defeated Pitbull since Daniel Straus did it in 2015. Pitbull is widely considered to be the best fighter that Bellator has ever had and his two world championships show off his greatness. However, he’s in for a tough matchup on April 2nd.

Bellator Featherweight Title Fight

There are so many things that Emmanuel Sanchez has going for him heading into Bellator 255. First and foremost, he’s incredible tough and durable. He’s not going to back away and be intimidated by the challenge of facing Patricio Pitbull.

Another thing that he has going for him is that he already has experience facing Pitbull. Yes, he lost the first fight by decision. However, it’s usually easier for the loser of the first fight to prepare for the rematch than the winner.

Nobody is going to be expecting Sanchez to walk out of Bellator 255 the featherweight champion. That’s another big advantage for the challenger. All of the pressure in this fight is on Patricio Pitbull.

Pitbull is the defending champion and he’s expected to win to setup the superfight with AJ McKee. McKee already did his part and now Pitbull has to take care of business. There is zero pressure on the shoulders of Sanchez. This should be a fantastic matchup on April 2nd.

Fights Bellator needs to make in 2021

2021 is officially here and it’s expected to be a big year for Bellator MMA. Despite having a lengthy shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the promotion had some really high points in 2020.

Not only did Bellator put on some tremendous fights, but they made some big signings. With a string of signings in the second half of the year, Bellator has a light heavyweight division that can compete with anyone’s.

We just entered 2021, but it’s looking good for Bellator. They have a lot of talent on the roster and they can be taken more seriously now. Gone are the days where Bellator cards are being headlined by the likes of Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000.

In 2021, there are a couple of fights that stick out as “Must-Makes” for Bellator. One of those fights comes from their most stacked division and the other comes from the division that holds the greatest fighter in the promotions history.

Bellator matchups that need to happen in 2021

Yoel Romero – Anthony “Rumble” Johnson

The first matchup that Bellator needs to make is Yoel Romero (13-5) against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6). Both of these men were signed by Bellator in the last couple of months of 2020.

The two former UFC title challengers are two of the more terrifying fighters in the sport. Romero just fought for the UFC middleweight title back in February of 2020 before being released at the end of the year.

Rumble has been out since 2017, however, outside of Daniel Cormier, nobody has been able to stop him since 2012. Both of these men are terrifying and extremely talented. Neither are likely to get a Bellator title shot right away considering the title picture.

With that in mind, Bellator needs to book the two men against each other. A matchup between Rumble and Romero is bigger than the light heavyweight title. It’s a massive fight that would draw in a ton of fans. I fully expect Bellator to book this fight early in 2021.

Patricio Pitbull – AJ McKee

This potential Bellator matchup is one that will likely be booked by default. The potential featherweight matchup between Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (31-4) and AJ McKee (17-0) is one that Bellator absolutely needs in 2021.

Both men are currently in the featherweight Grand Prix. McKee has already punched his ticket to the finals while Pitbull still has to defeat Emmanuel Sanchez. Pitbull has already defeated Sanchez once before.

You can imagine that the promotion is praying that Pitbull makes it through that fight victorious. No disrespect to Sanchez, but the fight that everyone wants to see is Pitbull against AJ McKee.

McKee has fought all 17 of his pro fights with Bellator. He looks like he can become the homegrown superstar that Bellator needs. He definitely has mainstream appeal and he’s only 25 years old.

Pitbull is arguably the greatest fighter Bellator has ever had. He continues to get better and better and he’s currently a two-division world champion. The fight between these two could be massive.

The best thing for Bellator in 2021 is for McKee to get his shot against Pitbull and win. AJ McKee has what it takes to become a superstar in MMA. If he can come in and win the title from someone like Pitbull in 2021, look out.

Bold 2021 predictions for Bellator MMA

Patricio Pitbull Freire

2021 is already promising to be a massive year for Bellator MMA. The promotion made some major progress in 2020 despite having to shut down for a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bellator put on some tremendous fights in 2020. However, it was their string of signings in the second half of the year that had the MMA world buzzing. Bellator really stacked their light heavyweight division.

Bellator added Yoel Romero (13-5), Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6), and Corey Anderson (14-5) to their light heavyweight division. All of the former top UFC contenders parted ways with the UFC this year.

As soon as they hit the open market, Bellator scooped them up. In doing so, the promotion has put together a light heavyweight division that is certainly capable of competing with the UFC’s light heavyweight division.

There are so many things to watch for with Bellator in 2021. I wanted to do some bold predictions for the promotion for what will happen in 2021. If these predictions come true, there are going to be some shocked MMA fans.

2021 Bellator Bold Predictions

Patricio Pitbull leaves 2021 without a title

For my first bold prediction I’m looking at Bellator’s two-division champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (31-4). Pitbull is widely considered to be the best fighter that Bellator has on the roster. He’s arguably the best fighter in the promotion’s history.

He currently is the Bellator lightweight and featherweight champion. However, there has been whispers of him vacating the lightweight championship. Pitbull became the lightweight champion when he defeated Michael Chandler (21-5) in 2019.

However, Pitbull is small for the weight class. He mainly moved up to lightweight to challenge Chandler to avenge his brother’s (Patricky Pitbull) knockout loss to Chandler. He has yet to defend the lightweight championship.

I’m going to say that Patricio Pitbull vacates the Bellator lightweight championship to focus on featherweight. However, I think that this is going to be the year that Pitbull is dethroned at featherweight.

The most exciting prospect in Bellator is AJ McKee (17-0). The Mercenary has fought all seventeen of his professional fights under the Bellator banner. They’ve brought him along the right way and he’s on the verge of superstardom.

McKee has already earned a spot in the finals of Bellator’s featherweight Grand Prix. The other spot will go to the winner of the fight between Patricio Pitbull and Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4).

I believe that Pitbull is going to defeat Sanchez when they fight setting up a fight between him and McKee. I’m going to say that McKee not only wins the Bellator featherweight title, but finishes Patricio Pitbull. With that, cementing himself as the superstar that Bellator needs.

Vadim Nemkov remains the light heavyweight champion

As mentioned above, the Bellator light heavyweight division is completely stacked at the moment. All of those signings are incredibly exciting and I didn’t even mention the promotion’s light heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov (12-2).

Nemkov knocked out Ryan Bader (27-6, 1 NC) to capture the Bellator light heavyweight championship back in August. Nobody has been able to stop Nemkov since he made his debut with the promotion in 2017.

With the additions made to the light heavyweight division, many are saying Nemkov will not leave 2021 as the champion. However, my bold prediction is that the belt stays with the Russian as we enter 2022.

As things currently stand, there are three front runners to face Nemkov whenever he defends his title. Those contenders being Corey Anderson, Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC), and a rematch with Bader.

Something tells me that Nemkov is just going to fight twice in 2021 with both of his fights coming from that group of three. Nemkov has already defeated Davis and Bader on his way to the title.

Corey Anderson is definitely a tough challenge, however, I think Nemkov can beat him. While everyone will want to see Anthony Johnson or Yoel Romero challenge for the Bellator title next year, I’m not convinced it happens.

Something tells me that Nemkov is going to have a rematch with Ryan Bader next. Scott Coker said that they are looking into this. I believe that Nemkov will beat Bader again to retain the Bellator title.

Perhaps on the same card, I believe we will see a matchup between Davis and Anderson as a title eliminator. I also see Nemkov defeating the winner of that fight. So my prediction is when all is said and done, Vadim Nemkov is still the light heavyweight champion after 2021.

Is AJ McKee the best featherweight in Bellator?

AJ McKee

Last week at Bellator 253, AJ “Mercenary” McKee (17-0) made a massive statement. In the semi-finals of the Featherweight Grand Prix, McKee took on former bantamweight world champion, Darron Caldwell.

This was expected to be the toughest test yet for McKee inside a Bellator cage. The former bantamweight champion was a national champion wrestler, and he could hold his own on the feet as well. The fight was expected to be a war.

In reality, the fight was not very close. In the opening round at Bellator 253, Caldwell did a good job of using a low shot to take McKee down. Caldwell seemed content with staying in McKee’s guard while trying to land elbows.

McKee said all week that if he was taken down, Caldwell would have to constantly be working to keep him there. The Mercenary started throwing elbows off his back, but you could see the wheels turning in his head about something else.

After Caldwell landed a big elbow, he placed his head on the right side of McKee. Seemingly, he was going to try to setup another big elbow. However, McKee slid his arm through and locked in a neck crank that even most BJJ experts hadn’t seen before.

McKee locked his legs in a figure four and lifted his hips for maximum pressure. You could tell the squeeze had the former Bellator champion in all kinds of pain. He was forced to tap just one minute and eleven seconds into the first round.

Bellator’s Best?

AJ McKee is truly something special. He made his professional debut with Bellator back in 2015 just three days after he turned 20 years old. His entire career has been spent inside the Bellator cage. McKee is truly evolving into something special.

I truly don’t see a weakness in his game. He’s got great skills on the feet with decent pop. His accuracy is something that’s extremely impressive and I love his kicks. He also possesses very good wrestling, and he’s incredible on the ground.

McKee is going to be a nightmare for anyone that he faces. His next challenge will likely be the Bellator two-division world champion, Patricio Pitbull (31-4). Pitbull is also coming off of an incredible performance back at Bellator 252.

These two men just seem like they are on a collision course. Pitbull will have to face Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4) first in his semi-final matchup. However, Pitbull will be a massive favorite seeing as he has already defeated Sanchez.

The biggest fight that Bellator can make right now is the matchup between McKee and Pitbull. If this fight happens in 2021, it will be a huge spectacle for fans. McKee is on his way to superstardom and if he can dethrone Pitbull, he might have a claim as the best featherweight in the world.

UFC’s Volkanovski vs Bellator’s Pitbull: Who’s the best featherweight?

This past week at Bellator 252, Patricio Pitbull Freire (31-4) knocked out Pedro Carvalho to defend his featherweight crown. After the fight was over, Pitbull and Scott Coker both claimed that Pitbull was the best featherweight in the world.

Of course these comments were met with some criticism. Including from current UFC featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski (22-1). Volkanovski just rolled his eyes in a Tweet after hearing the comments from the Bellator champion.

There has been a lot of debate in the MMA community about the UFC’s champions and Bellator‘s champions. Now, most if not all of the time, people are going to say that the UFC has the best champion.

The arguments are completely justified considering the talent pool in the UFC compared to Bellator. There is no questioning the fact that it’s tougher to get to the UFC crown versus getting to the Bellator crown.

However, Patricio Pitbull definitely belongs in the conversation as one of the best in the world. He’s currently ranked fourth in the world according to ESPN’s MMA divisional rankings. So the question is, how would Pitbull do in the UFC?

UFC vs Bellator

Conventional wisdom would give Volkanovski a huge advantage over Pitbull considering the competition level. Pitbull has had some tough fights in Bellator, but those have mainly come at lightweight versus featherweight.

It should also be known that Pitbull has been defeated at featherweight in Bellator (Daniel Straus). Volkanovski has never lost in the UFC’s featherweight division. If Pitbull was to go over to the UFC, how would he do?

The crazy thing is, I think Pitbull has a better chance against Volkanovski than he does against other top UFC contenders. Pitbull has a ton of power and is basically the same size as Alexander Volkanovski.

We’ve seen the UFC champion hurt at times, particularly in his last fight with Max Holloway. Neither man is unbeatable, and I think Pitbull would have a good chance at beating Volkanovski. Not saying he would, but he’d have a shot.

However, given his style, I think Pitbull would struggle with other guys in the division. I think Max Holloway and Brian Ortega are bad matchups for Pitbull. Frankly, I think Brian Ortega is a bad matchup for anyone in the world right now at featherweight.

At the end of the day, Pitbull belongs in the conversation with the best in the UFC. However, he is not the best featherweight in the world. Unfortunately for him, he cannot lay claim to that title while fighting in Bellator.

The competition level just isn’t there. There is one clear best featherweight in the world right now, and that is Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski. That is my opinion, but there is an argument for both sides.

Patricio Pitbull knocks out Pedro Carvalho in the first at Bellator 252

Tonight Bellator returned to action and the best fighter that the promotion has to offer was in the main event. Continuing with the Featherweight Grand Prix, featherweight champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (30-4) took on Pedro Carvalho (11-3).

Patricio Pitbull is one of the very best fighters in the world. Over the years, he’s become a face of Bellator. However, Carvalho was expected to give him a big challenge tonight.

Training under the same coach as Conor McGregor, Carvalho is good wherever the fight goes. He fights extremely long and he’s got slick submissions on the mat. This fight was expected to be a battle.

However, it was evident from the opening bell that these two were on different levels. Carvalho came out and threw some decent strikes trying to pressure the champion. However, Pitbull was just biting his time waiting for his opportunity.

As the first round continued, Pitbull started touching Carvalho up. He buckled Carvalho with a right then he dropped Carvalho with another right. A scramble found Pitbull on Carvalho’s back.

However, Carvalho was able to work his way back up to his feet, but he wouldn’t be there long. Pitbull hurt him bad with another right hand. Then a clean leaping left hook put Carvalho out for good. Pitbull remains the Bellator featherweight champion.

Patricio Pitbull def Pedro Carvalho by KO -  Round 1

What’s next after Bellator 252

Bellator 252 was supposed to be a tough event for Pitbull and he just stormed through Pedro Carvalho. Odds makers had the odds stacked for Pitbull, but many analyst thought that Carvalho could give Pitbull a tough fight.

Turns out, it was just another walk through the park for Pitbull. After this he will continue on in the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix. His next opponent is already decided as he will take on Emmanuel Sanchez (19-4) who won earlier in the evening.

These two men fought back in 2018 with Pitbull winning by unanimous decision. I have no idea who is going to be the man who can take away that crown from Pitbull. He is truly something special.

Bellator 252 Preview: Patricio Pitbull – Pedro Carvalho

Patricio Pitbull Freire

Tomorrow night Bellator returns to action. In the main event of the evening, we will see the fight that was supposed to take place just before the pandemic shut things down. This card was hours away before production shut down in March.

Bellator two-division champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (30-4), will be taking on Pedro Carvalho (11-3) in the featherweight division. The fight will be the first fight of 2020 for both of these top featherweights.

The last time we saw Pitbull in the Bellator cage, he successfully defended his featherweight crown against new bantamweight champion, Juan Archuleta. Pitbull is on a five fight winning streak with that last loss coming by way of injury.

Patricio Pitbull is the class of Bellator. The two-division champion is known as one of the best fighters in the world. In fact, he’s most known for his first round knockout of Michael Chandler who was a big recent signing by the UFC.

There’s a reason why Pitbull will enter the cage tomorrow as a big betting favorite. However, the challenger has a ton of hype around him and many feel that he is going to give Patricio Pitbull a run for his money.

Bellator 252 Main Event

Pedro Carvalho will enter the Bellator cage tomorrow night riding a six fight winning streak. He’s really taken off in his last three contests finishing all three of his opponents before hitting the third round.

Carvalho is extremely tall and lengthy for the featherweight division. He will have a six inch height advantage and a five inch reach advantage tomorrow night over the Bellator two-division champion.

When it comes to breaking this fight down, it will all come down to how well Patricio Pitbull can get inside. I think Pitbull is one of the best in the world at overcoming a reach disadvantage. He’s going to need those skills tomorrow night.

We could see a leg kick heavy attack from Pitbull tomorrow. However, I think Carvalho’s straight shots and jabs could give him issues. Carvalho’s skills on the ground and long limbs could make Pitbull’s top game challenging tomorrow night.

Ultimately in the end, I think the fight is going to take place predominately on the feet. I expect Carvalho to shock a lot of people with how well he’s going to do. However, in the end, it’s hard to bet against the champ. I’m expecting a war, but I’m rocking with Pitbull in a close one.

Prediction: Patricio “Pitbull” Freire by Unanimous Decision