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Patricky ‘Pitbull’ focused on RIZIN GP, but has ‘knocking out Michael Chandler’ on to-do list

Patricky Freire aims to be RIZIN’s lightweight champion, but one of his other goals is settling the score with an old rival.

Patricky ‘Pitbull’ Freire (USA) joined the third and final... Photo by Daniela Parra Saiani/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Bellator MMA lightweight contender Patricky “Pitbull” Freire aims to close out 2019 by winning the eight-man RIZIN FF Grand Prix, but he has bigger goals in mind for 2020.

While Patricky is no stranger to Bellator’s tournaments, this is a different experience given he’ll have to win twice on New Year’s Eve to prevail in the RIZIN GP. The Brazilian knockout artist spoke to Bloody Elbow about some of the differences between his regular camp prep and how he’s handling the Grand Prix.

“The biggest change was to prepare and spar with the idea of two fights in one day,” Freire said. “It’s different to prepare for a five-round fight and to prepare for two fights of three rounds with three hours in between. You get cold, your musculature rests, your focus change, and you have to start all over. I brought one of my physical therapists, Denilson Mauricio, with me this time and he’ll be in the locker room with me to help me with this process.

“I’m not sparing any efforts to be at my best in both fights. Winning this means a lot to me and I’m not looking past anybody. I’ll face all of them as my biggest challenge to date and I’m ready to prevail.”

Freire will take on Luiz Gustavo in the semifinals, and should he get the victory, he’ll take on either Johnny Case or Tofiq Musaev in the final. He says he doesn’t have a preference in terms of opponent, and also doesn’t intend to change much in his fight strategy given the potential for two fights in the span of a few hours.

“Of course you have some concerns about being injured and not making it to the final, or not getting there one hundred percent,” he said. “If you go into the fight thinking about sparing yourself somehow, you may not make it to the other one. I need to be the best of me in both fights if I want to be the champion and that’s what I prepared for. The plan is always to get the quickest and cleanest win possible, it won’t change now.”

One of the big rivalries in Bellator MMA has been between former lightweight champion Michael Chandler and both Patricky and Patricio Freire. Chandler has twice beaten Patricky, but lost his lightweight title to Patricio Freire by knockout earlier this year.

Rivalry done? Not just yet. Patricky still wants his turn at knocking out Michael, who’s coming off a first-round KO of Sidney Outlaw at Bellator Japan this past weekend.

“It’s far from over,” Patricky said. “I’m gonna put my hands on him, I’m gonna pay him back with interests. The rivalry will never end. Chandler is trying to come up with some pretty stories because he lost, but he’d never shut up if he had won, and I know he’s only waiting for an opportunity to talk shit again. But it kills him every time the defeat is mentioned. Well, there’ll be much more to that soon.

“I’m working hard to get this title in Rizin and in 2020 the Bellator title and knocking out Michael Chandler are on my list.”

You can catch RIZIN FF 20 from the Saitama Super Arena starting at 2 AM ET/11 PM PT on Tuesday, December 31st.