Bellator 252 Preview

Bellator touches down at the Mohegan Sun Arena Thursday November 12, where ‘Champ, Champ’ Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire (30-4) defends his Featherweight title in the Featherweight Grand Prix. Pedro Carvalho (11-3) is left the task to dethrone the champ who is defending his featherweight 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 guidance of John Kavanagh at SBGHQ in Dublin. He made his debut for Bellator in 2018 where he defeated Daniel 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 veteran 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.

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 when asked how he sees the fight playing out.

“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 that 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 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.”

Check out Andy Stevenson’s column “This Weekend’s Warriors” for a further look at the Pitbull vs. Carvalho and all the other Irish affiliated fighters that compete this week.

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 QF of the tournament by beating Saul Rogers in the opening round. He is a 50+ fight veteran who has fought in multiple promotions throughout the world fighting the likes of Dan Hardy, Thiago Tavares, Paul Daley, Pat Curren and Patricio Pitbull.

Opening up the main card is a fight between two undefeated welterweights. Ukrainian based fighter Yaroslav Amosov (24-0) will put his perfect record on the line when he fights Logan Storley (11-0) who also has an unblemished record.

Uber prospect Aaron Pico (6-3) returns to action as the prelim headliner, he looks to add to his two fight win streak. Standing across from Pico will be John de Jesus (13-8) who sets foot inside the Bellator cage for the second time in this featherweight encounter.

Roman Faraldo (3-0) and Pat Casey (6-3) will battle it out at 170 pounds. In the lightweight division Devin Powell (10-4) and Manny Muro(11-6) are set to lock horns. Keri Taylor-Melendez (4-0) will look to stay undefeated when she faces off against Emilee King (4-3) in the strawweight division. The official card can be seen in full below.

Official Fight Card

Main Card (Sky Sports Mix, 12am GMT)

Featherweight: Patricio Pitbull vs. Pedro Carvalho
Featherweight: Daniel Weichel vs. Emmanuel Sanchez
Featherweight: Yaroslav Amosov vs. Logan Storley

Prelims (Bellator YouTube Channel, 8:45 GMT)

Featherweight: Aaron Pico vs. John de Jesus
Welterweight: Roman Faraldo vs. Pat Casey
Lightweight: Devin Powell vs. Manny Muro
Bantamweight: Jornel Lugo vs. Schyler Sootho
Featherweight: Kara Lynn Hoad vs. Amanda Leve
Strawweight: K. Taylor-Melendez vs. Emilee King
Featherweight: Gabriel Varga vs. Brandon Phillips
Featherweight: Lucas Brennan vs. Andrew Salas
Welterweight: Khonry Gracie vs. Trevor Gudde

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.