Bellator 241 Preview

Bellator touches down in Uncasville, Connecticut, where ‘Champ, Champ’ Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire (30-4-0) defends his Featherweight title in the Featherweight Grand Prix. Pedro Carvalho (11-3-0) is left the task to dethrone the champ who is defending his title for the fourth time.

Patricio, from Brazil is a 34 fight veteren and has been a staple in the Bellator promotion for just about 10 years. This is his second reign as Featherweight champion. He won the title the first time around by beating Pat Curren before losing it to Danial Straus back in 2015. He regained that very same belt two years later in a rematch against Straus and successfully defended it twice more against Daniel Weichel and Emmanuel Sanchez. That prompted a move up in weight and a provided a huge test when he faced off against Lightweight champion Michael Chandler. This was a test he passed with flying colours as he went on to knock out Chandler in the first round. 

Bellator, who are known for putting on tournament style Grand Prix’s went ahead and put together a talent rich Featherweight Grand Prix. Pitbull was entered into the competition and was deemed with the task to defend his title in each round. His first challenger was heavy hitter Juan Archuleta. Pitbull advanced on the judges scorecards in what turned out to be a straightforward night for the champ. That win moved him forward into the next round in which takes place this Friday night against Pedro Carvalho.

Carvalho, who was born in Portugal but trains under the tutelage of John Kavanagh at SBGHQ in Dublin. He made his debut for Bellator in 2018 where he defeated Danial Crawford by split decision. After that bout he finished his next two opponents by submitting  Luca Vitali in less than a minute and was successful by also stopping Derek Campos via ground and pound in the first round. Those impressive wins propelled him into a spot into the Featherweight Grand Prix. His challenger in the first round was UFC veteren Sam Sicilia. Carvalho made it look easy when he went on to submit his opponent in the second round.

Bellator allowed their fighters to select their own opponents for the next round robin stage and Pitbull was quick in his decision to choose Carvalho. There has been a long running beef between Patricio and his older brother Patricky with the SBG gym stemming back a few years. With a fight in the pipeline between SBG’s Peter Queally and lightweight Patricky headlining in Dublin later this year the rivalry is set to continue well beyond this fight. Patricio himself has labeled the feud ‘SBG vs The Pitbull Brothers’. Despite the rivalry he had some good things to say about Carvalho but went on to give a damning verdict on how he sees the fight playing out at a recent press event. 

“He’s good, I believe he’s very good. He’s young, he has good kickboxing. He has good jiu-jitsu but he’s not enough for me. I am better than him in all aspects of MMA.”

“I am gonna finish Pedro in less than two minutes.”

Carvalho will be the second fighter out of SBGHQ to compete for a major MMA title, the first being teammate Conor McGregor. In the build up he was not all that worried about the feud or the fact that Pitbull hand picked him.

“It could be he thinks I’m an easy fight,” Carvalho said. “It could be that, strategically, he puts the undefeated guys and Caldwell on one side (of the bracket) and all the guys he already beat on our side. Or it can be like he said, that he wants to start a feud with SBG. But I never really wasted my time thinking about that. I really don’t care. I was truly delighted to have the opportunity. I don’t care why he picked me. What I care about is I’ll be in that cage with him, then I’ll beat him and I’ll get my belt.”

Moving over to Dublin was a big sacrifice but a necessary move in order to to move to the next level. His choice to join SBG was an easy decision. 

“My main focus when I chose SBG, was because of John (Kavanagh). I know John from social media and MMA. I identify a lot with his approach and his way to approach the fight game and everything. You know, it’s really simple but he focuses a lot on the small details that no one sees and it makes a huge difference. I always liked to work like that.“

They say confidence comes from preparation and Pedro Carvalho has tons of both in his locker.

“These people don’t see the amount of hours, the amount of work I’ve put in. I was 13 years old when I decided to not be like a normal kid so I could reach my dreams. I never did normal kid stuff during my teenage years, because I wanted to train and I wanted to reach my goals, I wanted to pursue my dream. All those hours, all that sacrifice – the betting houses, the cameras, they don’t see it. They don’t realize until these guys are locked with me in the cage. Then, everything changes.”

“They will see, on March 13, a Patricio ‘Pitbull’ like never before – a Patricio ‘Pitbull’ getting dominated, then finished,” he stated. “I’m going to be the first guy to finish him. I doubt he passes the second round. If he passes the second round, he’s going to be just a body hanging around the cage. And if he’s still alive in the third round, I’m going to have some fun and then I’m going to finish him. I’m going to knock Patricio out.”

The Co-Main event is another battle in the Featherweight Grand Prix with the winner moving on to fight the winner of Pitbull/Carvalho. Emanual Sanchez (19-4-0) faces off against Daniel Weichel (40-11-0). 

Sanchez is coming in off the back of two victories against Ty-wan Claxton and Georgi Karakhanyan in 2019. This will be the second time he has stepped in to face Weichel. The first encounter saw Sanchez drop a split decision and he will be looking to right that wrong this time around. Weichel who defeated SBGHQ’s Brian Moore in Dublin in 2016 got his place in the tournament by beating Saul Rogers in the opening round. He is a 50+ fight vetern who has fought in multiple promotions throughout the world fighting the likes of Dan Hardy, Thiago Taveres, Paul Daley, Pat Curren and Patrico Pitbull. 

The rest of the card sees quite a few familiar faces. Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley (42-17-2) will look to add another KO to his already impressive resume when he fights Sabah Homasi (13-8-0). Daley, fighting out of Team Rough House in Nottingham will be looking to add to his impressive tally of 31 knockouts. Also on the main card is stand out fighter Nick Newell (16-3-0) who faces off against Zach Zane (14-9-0). Newell was born with congenital amputation of his left arm, which ends just below his elbow. The former WSOF champion will look to add another victory to an already impressive record.

Former UFC heavyweights Matt Mitrione (11-8-1) and Ronny Markes (19-7) go to battle in a fight both fighters need to win. Mitrione stepped in at short notice to replace Josh Barnett who tested positive for a banned substance. Leslie Smith (11-8-1) steps into the Bellator cage for the third time as she looks to bounce back from defeat in her last bout. She goes up against fellow American Jessy Miele (9-3-0). Kevin Ferguson Jr. (3-2-0), also known as ‘Baby Slice’ goes against Kaheem Murray (3-3-0). Ferguson is the son of Kimbo Slice.

See below for the full fight card. Bellator 241 takes place this Friday night, March 13th at 10PM ET at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Patricio Pitbull vs. Pedro Carvalho 145 lbs

Daniel Weichel vs. Emmanuel Sanchez 145 lbs

Paul Daley vs. Sabah Homasi 170 lbs

Nick Newell vs. Zach Zane 155 lbs

Anatoly Tokov vs. Fabio Aguiar 185 lbs

Matt Mitrione vs. Ronny Markes 265 lbs

Leslie Smith vs. Jessy Miele 145 lbs

Robson Gracie Jr. vs. Billy Goff 170 lbs

Romero Cotton vs. Justin Sumter 185 lbs

Killys Mota vs. Nate Andrews 155 lbs

Mike Kimbel vs. Kenny Rivera 140 lbs

Baby Slice vs. Kaheem Murray 160 lbs

Mark Lemminger vs. Ion Pascu 170 lbs

Vladimir Tokov vs. Marcus Surin 155 lbs

Jordan Newman vs. Pat McCrohan 185 lbs

Leandro Higo vs. Dominic Mazzotta 145 lbs

Ian O'Neill is a Kilkenny man living in Canada. You can catch him on Twitter most of the time talking all things MMA. Follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma.