Bellator comes to Pala Alpitour in Torino, Italy, TONIGHT (Sat., April 16, 2016) with Bellator 152: "Pitbull vs. Souza" and Bellator Kickboxing 1: "Torino" on the same night.
The Bellator MMA portion of the evening's festivities will be headlined by a match between Patricky "Pitbull" Freire and Kevin Souza, the latter stepping in as a late replacement for Derek Campos. Freire has more than pride on the line. A second win in a row following his big knockout against Ryan Couture at Bellator 148 would give him some much needed momentum toward a Lightweight title shot.
In an e-mail conversation with MMAmania.com after his late change of opponent, Freire indicated that he was happy to still have a fight in Italy and that he was looking forward to this challenge.
"I'm happy someone stepped up. I trained hard for this and was looking forward to be the main event of Bellator's first show in Europe. The camps have a high cost, so I'm happy all the money didn't go down the drain and I that can showcase my skills to the Italian audience. And also to make a statement and get my shot at the title next."
That being, Freire indicated he'd be happy with any opponent in Pala Alpitour.
"I'm not the type of guy to pick fights. I don't choose my opponents -- I don't go searching for that. Actually I want to fight for the belt and fight the champion Will Brooks but that hasn't happened (yet)."
Freire says that he doesn't feel that Souza will have a tough time with coming up in weight in less than one week.
"Not at all. He's probably heavier than me, and he's fought at 155 before if I'm not mistaken. I may not look like it, but I cut very little weight to make 155. He'll be the bigger man by fight night, but I'll be the better fighter."
As it turns out, though, Freire did want one opponent -- Melvin Guillard -- but he suggests that "Young Assassin" was ducking a potential fight between the two.
"I knew Melvin Guillard didn't have an opponent and I had to fight him, but he didn't want to fight me (so) he fought Campos. Meanwhile Bellator sent me a contract to fight Brent Primus on the main event of the Italy card which I signed right away -- I thought it was a good fight. After Campos knocked out Melvin they sent me a new bout agreement to fight Campos and I signed it just like I would have signed to fight anyone."
Things worked out well for Primus and for Freire, who is excited to show off his well rounded game in the main event against Kevin Souza.
"I've been working on not just striking, but also jiu-jitsu and (in) every aspect of my game I try to implement new things and design new things. So when I fight my opponent never knows which fight is coming in front of him. He never gets to know the right thing and what kind of strategy and behavior I'll be having in the cage. If they're saying my counter attacking is (good) it's a result of what I'm working on every day."
Would Freire still want to face Campos at a later date to show off those skills given he's already beaten him once?
"It's all about timing. He'll be out for a long time from what I heard, what is a shame, but I hope he recovers well. I'll do everything in my power to get this win on Saturday and after that I expect to fight for the title and win it, so he'll have to make his way there."
And speaking of his title aspirations, Freire would like to fight the winner of Josh Thomson vs. Michael Chandler.
"The next big fight is against the winner of Thomson and Chandler. When Bellator puts a spotlight on someone like that all the guys want to pick them up (for a fight). Aside from (Will) Brooks the guy to be (next at Lightweight) is the winner of the fight so that's why I'm interested in that as well."
Six days after Freire fights Souza, his brother Patricio Freire has an important fight with Henry Corrales. A win could move Freire closer to another match with Featherweight champion Daniel Straus.
"He's doing really well. He's working on being completely different in this fight than he (was) before. He's improving his arsenal of bombs and shots and he's training well to be sure he'll be able to come out of the fight with the finish like he's done in previous fights. It will be the best performance he's ever fought in the Bellator cage."
The performance Patricio gave at Bellator 138 is pretty hard to top, but I'll take his word for it. In summary, Freire is prepared to put on a show in Torino this evening and in whatever fights he may get in the future.
"There's been talks and comments about fighting Thomson but they told me to wait a little more. I never know what the future holds for me. I think I may end up fighting the winner of (his) fight but I'm looking for the belt and to fight those guys too. I'm all about the challenges."
Complete audio of our interview is below and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on fight night.