We a few decades into this sport of cagefighting, and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that the biggest fights are the ones that have raging fires of rivalry burning beneath them.
Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock. Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate. Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz. The common denominator in all of these match-ups was that by the time they’d finally met in the cage, their antics outside of the cage brought interest in them to a fever pitch.
Enter: longtime Bellator star Patricio Freire, a.k.a., one of the “Pitbull” brothers. A dude who’s beaten plenty of badasses, lost to a few of the super-elite, and because he’s in the number two MMA organization, hasn’t really become a household name. Which is sad, but hey, that’s life.
Anyway, poor old Patricio has never had a decent rivalry to elevate his status, so maybe there’s the gym vs. gym angle to explore…?
In case you don’t know, Conor McGregor’s team is Straight Blast Gym in Ireland, and one such teammate, James Gallagher, is emerging as a Bellator star. Pitbull wants to have his team of hungry Brazilian lads take on SBG Ireland.
Look, the last viable team vs. team rivalry was when the Lion’s Den got taken out one by one by Tito Ortiz back in the 1920s. Since then, we’ve seen an organization called the International Fight League, which pitted faux teams against each other, crash and burn. There was also a season of TUF that had the Blackzillians take on American Top Team. Holy suckfest, Batman.
The idea is a dead. Freire deserves more spotlight than he’s gotten, but it isn’t going to happen if you have a bunch of Brazilians fight Irishmen.
Anyway, here’s MMAFighting:
“This [rivalry] can last an entire generation,” Freire told MMA Fighting. “There are several rivalries in MMA and vale tudo history, like jiu-jitsu vs. luta livre and Chute Boxe vs. Brazilian Top Team. SBG and Pitbull Brothers can start another one that can last a generation. I think Bellator has the best opportunity in their hands and they can take advantage of it.
“We will annihilate SBG,” he added. “Big mouths can’t do anything, you have to prove it in the cage.”
The featherweight champion says Ireland would be “the best stage possible” for a first event, and then move on to new markets like Brazil. Freire is currently slated and focused on defending his belt in a rematch against Daniel Weichel in Rome on July 14, and says James Gallagher could be his opponent in this gym vs. gym challenge.
Freire says he would bring his brother Patrick Freire in for the challenge at lightweight, and also Leandro Higo. Pitbull Brother’s Luiz Rocha is not under contract with the promotion, but fought and won at the Bellator 188 card in Israel in November. “We have several free agents that can come in and do an excellent job,” Freire said.