Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Laments Early Stoppage, Wants A.J. McKee Rematch at 145 Pounds

By: Marcelo Alonso
Aug 6, 2021

Former Bellator MMA featherweight king Patricio Freire wants to run it back with A.J. McKee one day, but he is not in a rush to line it up.

Freire (23-5) and McKee (18-0) met at Bellator 263, for the finals of the featherweight grand prix with a championship, tournament belt and $1 million check on the line. In their meeting, McKee stunned “Pitbull” with a head kick, and finished him off with a guillotine choke in under two minutes. The Brazilian, after taking a few days off to spend time with his family, spoke to Ag. Fight on Thursday about his defeat and prospects going forward.

Freire was none too thrilled by the stoppage in that bout, when referee Mike Beltran intervened believing that “Pitbull” went limp from the choke. While Freire did ultimately congratulate McKee, crediting the younger fighter for his successes, he believes he was not given the full opportunity to get out of the perilous situation.

“A.J. made me commit a mistake that I was not used to and caught me with a nice combination,” Freire admitted. “He deserves all the merit for that, but I did not tap and I was not unconscious. Yesterday, I saw a video in another angle that shows one of my arms going up to defend the choke. I don’t want to be a bad loser, but I also want to be fair. I’m pretty confused about that.”

Knowing the California State Athletic Commission typically defers to the referee’s in-cage decision, and that there is little hope for an appeal, he is ready to move on and try to exact revenge in the future.

“McKee is very smart,” Freire stated. “He just got the title in [the] featherweight division [by] beating the number one [pound-for-pound fighter], and even never having fought in lightweight, he already wants the title. I believe that if they made the [rematch], it has to be in the original category [of featherweight]. He never fought in the lightweight division. I already gave a lot of advantages to them.”

“Pitbull” is not in a rush to get the win back, or immediately get back in the cage against McKee, despite his obvious interest in a rematch. The winningest fighter in Bellator history is aware that a second bout with McKee, especially if it were for his lightweight crown, would be among the biggest fights that the organization could possibly put together.

“Let him break his body a little bit, training to make some five-round camps,” “Pitbull” said. “That’s where the champions work hard. If he doesn’t fight at featherweight, the title will be vacant. If he wants to go up and face me [at] lightweight, [we’re] gonna have to sit down and make a new negotiation. It has to be fair. I’m not sure if it’s the right thing to do now.”

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