Patricio “Pitbull” and the Dogged Pursuit of Greatness

By Raphael Garcia

Determination is a trait that is found in many professional athletes. No matter the situation, they continue to clamour for the chance to take the big shot or receive the ball in crucial situations. In mixed martial arts that style of determination manifests quite differently. Fighters have to continue to push themselves through the hard moments that come along with wins and losses. That is what makes Patricio “Pitbull” Freire such an interesting individual. The Bellator featherweight is the promotion’s definition of determination.

The younger brother of Bellator lightweight Patricky Freire, “Pitbull” is currently on a tear through Bellator’s 145-pound division. With his win at Bellator 103 over Fabricio Guerreiro, he became the first individual to reach the final in three Bellator tournaments. Now while that may not be such a great accomplishment, because it signifies that he hasn’t won the title, Freire seems determined to make this third win mean something. When he faced off with future opponent Justin Wilcox on Friday night, Freire seemed like he didn’t even want to shake his the other finalist’s hand.

Since joining the Bellator promotion in 2010, “Pitbull” has put together an 8-2 record. However, those two losses hang very heavily over Freire’s head, as he’s twice been defeated when facing down a chance to win the organization’s featherweight title.

The first came via a controversial split decision loss to Joe Warren in 2010. That loss would force the Brazilian back into Bellator’s featherweight tournament, where he would stop two opponents and then earn a decision victory over Daniel Straus to get his second shot at a title match. This time, at Bellator 85, he would face Pat Curran in what would be an even closer bout — so much so that Freire seems to mention it any time a microphone is placed in front of his face.

In this season’s tournament, the 26-year old combatant looks much more poised in his run towards a title shot. His striking has always been very crisp, and his power has helped put away both Jared Downing and Diego Nunes in highlight reel fashion. He displayed his improving wrestling against Guerreiro and kept the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt stifled on the mat for all three rounds. There aren’t too many holes in Freire’s game, and he’s done a fantastic job keeping them underexposed at this point in competition.

“Pitbull” is going to be the favorite when he faces Wilcox in the next few weeks. Wilcox will bring a strong wrestling game to the fight, but that’s not anything that Freire can’t match. Most expect for his striking and grappling abilities to be too much for the former Strikeforce standout, and for the Brazilian to punch his ticket into a title shot once again.

A win would set up a rematch with Curran that would be similar to the Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez contest coming up in November. Their featherweight rivalry presents an opportunity for Bellator to push a major fight that the promotion cannot afford to miss out on.

Patricio Freire has earned his place as one of Bellator’s major stars. While he hasn’t been able to secure a title yet, he’s worth watching, both due to his propensity to finish, and his intriguing story.


Bellator 103 took place on October 11, 2013 at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas.

Click the stars to rate how good you think Bellator 103 was.

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