The current Bellator lightweight and featherweight champion, Patricio Freire, is sure that his old rival Michael Chandler will do just fine in his new home. After ‘Iron’ debuted in the UFC with an impressive first-round knockout of lightweight contender Dan Hooker at UFC 257, most specialists and fans seemed surprised with the result, but not the ‘Pitbull’.
In an interview with Ag Fight, not only was Freire already expecting Chandler to impress in his Octagon stint, but he also thinks Michael will rise all the way to the top and become the promotion’s new lightweight champion. In Patricio’s opinion, there just is not a fighter in the UFC who can deal with the arsenal the American brings to the table.
“I know Michael Chandler. I know his potential. He’s very explosive. He throws heavy shots, if it lands, it’s over. I had stated that even before his debut (that Chandler would be the new champion). The fact that he lost to me does not erase his potential. Between him and Poirier, I bet on him, easily. I think he’s going to make it similiar to what he did to Hooker.”
“I don’t think Charles Oliveira’s style matches up well with his.” Freire continued. “Chandler has fought great jiu-jitsu guys before, like Benson Henderson and my brother. He’s practically impossible to submit. Of course he can get caught, but I think that’s very difficult. His wrestling is a great counter to the jiu-jitsu approach, it makes it very complicated for them. I’m really cheering for Charles, but I think Chandler will defeat everyone.”
Should Chandler go all the way and become the new UFC lightweight champion, Freire believes there is no other alternative but to book a rematch between the two of them. Although the UFC is not keen on cross-promotion fights, Pitbull thinks not giving Michael the chance to face the last man to beat him only tarnishes the UFC’s image.
“If Chandler becomes the champion, it’ll only go to show that a Bellator guy went out there and destroyed it. He’s already close to a title fight. I knocked him out in less than a minute. If we have a rematch, I’ll do it again. It’s the fight fans want to see. The fans look at it as a videogame and they want to set up an imaginary fight. They don’t care about promotions, they just want to see it happen. It’s a win-win for everyone. If the UFC doesn’t book this fight, it’ll make them look bad. The Bellator champion is the best one, not yours. It’s on them if they want to have that reputation.”
Currently on a six-fight winning streak in Bellator, Freire (31-4) knocked out Pedro Carvalho in his last outing in November 2020, to defend his featherweight belt again. Before that, Pitbull scored wins over other notable names such as Juan Archuleta, Daniel Straus, and Chandler himself. The 33-year-old’s last loss happened in August 2016, when he lost to Benson Henderson via TKO due to a leg injury.