Bellator 194: “Mitrione vs. Nelson 2” heads to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., later this evening (Fri., Feb. 16, 2018), featuring a sensational second fight for the Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament that pits Matt Mitrione (12-5) against ”Big Country” Roy Nelson (23-14) for a much-anticipated rematch.
That’s not the only rematch going down tonight.
Lightweight divisional standout Patricky Freire (18-8) has been eating former champions for breakfast lately, knocking out former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson and knocking off former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion Benson Henderson in back-to-back bouts. That kind of success has him knocking on the door of another title shot.
Why then would the elder “Pitbull” brother take the risk of giving Derek Campos (19-6) a rematch? Freire already had his number at Bellator 117 almost four years ago. “Four” is an important number, though, as it’s also the length of Campos’ current win streak.
In an exclusive interview with MMAmania.com, Freire answered questions about this Bellator 194 bout (special thanks to Matheus Aquino for the translations).
Freire started out by describing how his training camp has been leading up to the rematch.
“It’s been great, especially as our new gym is close to being finished. We had a much better structure to prepare (in with) an Octagon, a much bigger mat area, an area with punching bags. I’m very happy with it.”
So who has more at stake going into this rematch on Friday - you or Campos?
“We both have (a lot at stake). Losing this fight puts us 10 steps back. Neither one of us can afford a loss here, so I’ve done my best in preparation for this fight in order to be the one victorious. I know he’ll bring everything he has trying to win.”
Does a third straight win against three quality opponents earn you a title shot?
“With a win here, they should grant me a title shot. But, we’ll see. Title shot or not, I’ll keep fighting and collecting my money.”
Were you surprised that Bellator announced Michael Chandler would rematch Brent Primus?
“I wasn’t. I expected Bellator to give me the title shot, but once they didn’t I knew they had this reserved for Chandler. It was funny how he was quick to sign the fight after saying he had no interest in it and wanted to fight my brother and a few other guys.”
Why take a fight over an opponent who you’ve already beaten when you’re so close to the title?
“I have a family to feed and I need to be active. At the end of the day I get paid the same if it’s a title shot or not, so if they don’t want me to fight for the title, at least give me fights the fans will be excited for and pay me. This one is an exciting fight for the fans, they’ll enjoy it. Derek has been on a run and always performs. He earned this rematch. It was the fight that made the most sense to me with Chandler fighting Goiti (Yamauchi) and Primus being reserved for him. But, I’ll show (him) I’ve evolved even more and continued creating my path to better things.”
Has Derek Campos impressed you in his growth as a fighter since you first met?
“I don’t think he improved much technically. He’s mostly the same guy. Likes to bang, has a good chin, great heart and the only way he’ll ever stop fighting is if he gets finished. He’s putting everything together now, but I’m much better than when I fought him the first time, so I look forward to showing the results of my evolution since then.”
How does the current Lightweight roster of Bellator stack up to the rest of the MMA world?
“We have a good division and the top guys here can challenge and beat the top guys anywhere. After all the mergers and signings of fighters between the promotions I think it’s pretty clear you can’t count anyone out.”
Have the recent spate of high profile weight cutting failures made you think that promoters or fighters need to change their ways?
“I believe fighters should stop making extreme weight cuts and the promotions and commissions should look to address these issues, but it should be done with everyone’s input.”
When can we expect your brother Patricio Freire to return to defend the Featherweight title?
“I don’t know. He’s ready and has been waiting to fight for a few months already. It’s up to Bellator.”
Is the plan still for him to defend his Bellator gold against Daniel Weichel?
“Whoever they decide to put in front of him he’ll face them. I believe Weichel is still the plan, but I don’t know what’s taking Bellator so long to book him.”
And there you have it. Obrigado “Pitbull” — we look forward to your bout tonight. Complete coverage of “Mitrione vs. Nelson 2” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.
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