Patricky “Pitbull” Freire wasn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of having Usman Nurmagomedov challenge him for his Lightweight title in the co-main event of Bellator 288 tonight (Fri., Nov. 18, 2022). According to the champ, Nurmagomedov slid his way into the title fight as a result of the last name he carries.
But, the Dagestani-born combatant did earn his stripes to the tune of 15 straight wins and going 4-0 (all finishes, three in round one) inside the Bellator cage.
For Nurmagomedov, it’s his chance to make history as the first fighter from Dagestan to win a Bellator title, all while adding another championship belt to his team, which is led by former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and current UFC 155-pound king, Islam Makhachev.
“My name will be written in the history books forever,” Nurmagomedov said during a recent media scrum (via MMA Junkie). “There was a time nobody would sign fighters from the Caucasus. Nobody knew where Dagestan is, where this part of Russia is located. Now we have two champions from Dagestan in the UFC – past, and present.
“I want to be the first Bellator champion from Dagestan. Nobody will take this away from me. No matter what happens in the future, my name will be saved in the history books.”
Taking the title from Pitbull’s grasp will be a tough task because the Brazilian bomber has been waiting for almost a decade for his time to shine, eventually tasting Bellator gold for the first time in 2021 by defeating Peter Queally at Bellator 270 for the vacant belt.
Fighting professionally for 16 years now, “Pitbull,” 36, knows a thing or three about fistfights, but the younger fighter, Nurmagomedov, 24, says his time has passed and the “old” veteran won’t be able to perform well enough to retain his title.
“What he used to do from the age of, let’s say 25 to 28, he will never be able to repeat it. Even if he wants it too much, it’s not going to happen. He’s old, he’s 36.”
With a record of 8-2 over his last 10 fights, “Pitbull” has shown that he is still as capable as ever and age isn’t slowing him down one bit. Nurmagomedov, however, thinks it’s time for a changing of the guard.
Out with the “old,” in with the new?
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