Scott Coker open to Patricio Freire vacating Bellator lightweight title

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Nolan King and Mike Bohn
·3 min read
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Bellator president Scott Coker isn’t opposed to Patricio Freire handing in his 155-pound title.

Freire (31-4 MMA, 19-4 BMMA) currently holds the promotion’s featherweight and lightweight championships, but hasn’t defended the latter since he captured it in May 2019.

In a May 2020 interview with MMA Junkie, Freire revealed would be willing to hand in his 155-pound strap – if it meant his brother, Bellator lightweight mainstay Patricky Freire (23-9 MMA, 14-7 BMMA), could get a shot. His boss, Coker, sees that as a real possibility.

“I think that he would like to continue at 145,” Coker recently told MMA Junkie. “Does he want to defend his title at 155? Honestly, I think he wanted to just beat Michael Chandler. I think that’s what he wanted to do. He did it. So, I believe, as his brother gets ready to fight and he has some victories, I think he’ll give up the 155-pound belt. That’s what his manager told me. If his brother has the opportunity to fight for the title after he gets some fights and gets some wins, then I think that (Patricio) ‘Pitbull’ would give up his belt to have the opportunity. That’s one scenario. The other scenario is we’ll just keep getting fights for him to fight for him at 145 and 155.”

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Regardless how many titles “Pitbull” has, Coker is proud to have Freire on the Bellator roster. His accomplishments, stats, and records accumulated under the promotion’s banner should not go underappreciated, according to Coker.

“You’re talking about, if not the greatest featherweight in the history of MMA, definitely one of them,” Coker said. “He’s done it all, man. When he fought Michael Chandler, I thought, ‘OK, maybe this will be a fight that doesn’t work out for him.’ But man, that guy had no fear and he went right at him and he knocked Michael out. … That’s when I said, ‘OK, I am sold now, man.’ He’s had so many great fights in Bellator. He’s a guy that has no fear. He’s a guy that’s definitely your alpha male walking in that cage. He has that strut and he’s very special.”

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Freire, 33, is in the midst of the Bellator featherweight grand prix. Having already dominated Juan Archuleta and starched Pedro Carvalho, Freire will face Emmanuel Sanchez in the semifinal round. The winner will fight A.J. McKee in the tournament finals.

Bellator has not announced its 2021 schedule yet, but Coker revealed the promotion is expecting a February return. The tournament is one of Bellator’s priorities entering the new year.

“This tournament was no joke,” Coker said. “He went through a gauntlet of athletes and he’s going to be ready. He’s going to be ready. He’s really wanting to cement his legacy. To me, he’s already done it all. Even before I got to Bellator, he was already taking it to people.

“He has to get through Sanchez. Last time, that was a war when he fought Sanchez, in Tel Aviv, I believe. It was a split decision and it was super close. Sanchez is going to be in his face and that fight is going to be a rock ’em sock ’em slugfest. The winner (of Freire vs. Sanchez) and A.J., that is a fight I’m really looking forward to and I think the fans are really excited to see that fight.”

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