Bellator 241: “Pitbull vs. Carvalho” goes down tomorrow night (Fri., March 13, 2020) inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., streaming exclusively online via DAZN. As you’d expect from the event title, “champ-champ” Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (30-4) will defend his 145-pound title against Pedro Carvalho (11-3) in the main event in ongoing Featherweight Grand Prix.
It’s a format unique in North America to have a world champion defend his title in every round of a tournament, but Bellator MMA has done it before with the Welterweight Grand Prix and crowned a new champion in the finals. If Freire is to achieve what Rory MacDonald could not, he’s got this fight and two more tournament brackets to go to get it done. Carvalho is not here to be just another bracket for “Pitbull,” though. Currently on a six-fight win streak, Carvalho advanced with a nasty face crank against Sam Sicilia last year. It’s a reminder that no matter how hard Freire can hit his opponents, anybody can be caught on the ground if they make one mistake.
Carvalho recently spoke with MMAmania.com through e-mail because of international time differences. I asked him first about his training camp to fight for the world title this Friday.
“It was great. Probably the best camp that I ever had. I am in the best shape of my life and I’m 100 percent ready to become the world champion.”
Carvalho may be better prepared now than he’s ever been, but he still would have preferred to have this fight months ago.
“My main goal was to get the December slot (in the Featherweight Grand Prix), but hey fighting for a world title, I can’t complain. To wait a little longer and get a bigger reward is fine. All good in the end.”
Given that “Pitbull” has never been submitted in a match before, let alone a world title fight, I asked Carvalho if he thought there was any chance he could do what he did to Sam Sicilia.
“I come to fight and every time that I come into that cage I’m the hunter. Whoever is on the other side is the prey and every single minute of the fighter I am trying to finish my opponent. I truly believe that by the second (or) third round I am going to find Patricio’s breaking point and I am going to knock him out. But, if he prefers to be submitted then we will see about that. I truly believe that I am going to knock him out.”
As you can see, Carvalho is brimming with confidence right now, which is the reason it doesn’t bother him one bit that Freire said SBG Ireland fighters have big mouths.
“No, not at all. Winners focus on winning and losers focus on winners. Everyone speaks about SBG and they say a lot of things. But, the bottom line is that they speak about us because we are winners and that is it. I never consider myself a trash talker. I just speak what comes from my mind and heart and I am always myself.”
What does Carvalho think people don’t know about SBG Ireland because of that reputation?
“People don’t search for more details, they just consume whatever they are given. SBG is my family and I don’t care what people think. We protect each other, we defend each other and we will be fighting alongside each other until the very end.”
Another thing he says people get wrong is that he’s not a fighter from Portugal in Ireland anymore — but I’ll let him explain in his own words.
“I moved to Ireland and always felt home. Ireland is my home. I don’t even consider Ireland a second home. Ireland is as home to me as Portugal is. I don’t consider myself a Portuguese man in the middle of Ireland.”
When you live and train somewhere long enough that’s only natural. That doesn’t mean Carvalho has forgotten where he comes from or how hard he worked to get where he is.
“Pressure for me was struggling my whole life through poverty. I come from a poor background and I saw my mom and Aunt struggling so that we could have food on the table. Having a seventh win in a row for me doesn’t bring any pressure. I’m here to win, but winning doesn’t add pressure for me. Winning is the only outcome that I accept. Fight after fight, I go out there to prove that I am the best in the world and that’s it.”
True to those roots Carvalho considers himself to be a “regular guy” outside of fighting.
“I’m just a normal guy. I enjoy MMA, but once I am out of the gym, I switch off and am just a regular guy. I like to spend time with family, eat good food, and that’s pretty much it. Any person can do what I am doing. Outside of MMA, I’m just a regular guy living a regular life. I want peace and to be with my girlfriend and with my son and to enjoy family time. That’s it.”
“Simple Man” would be appropriate entrance music for Pedro Carvalho, but no matter what he hears on Friday, it won’t change his demeanor. Not even a world title can change him.
“I’m very far away from my goals to celebrate. Even after I beat Patricio, I am far far away from my goals. I’m in this game to be one of the greatest and I’m in this game to put my name in the history books and to become immortal. So, there’s no time for celebration. Win, go back to the gym, and repeat.”
In conclusion I asked Carvalho if he had any words to share with fans who are just now getting to know him heading into this main event.
“I would just like to thank everyone for the support, from everyone back in my country, from Ireland, and from around the globe. I have received so much love over the past few months and so many people believing in me and in this victory, as I believe. It’s been amazing to see and it’s been amazing to feel that love and I am truly grateful. Thank you!”
Complete coverage of “Pitbull vs. Carvalho” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.