Should Patricio Freire be AJ McKee’s first Bellator title defense?


This could be the most important year in Patricio Freire’s Hall of Fame career.

For much of the past seven years, “Pitbull” Freire has had a Bellator title around his waist. And for part of that time he had two. But these days, the former featherweight and lightweight champion is beltless and awaits his first assignment on the way forward.

Freire lost his featherweight title to AJ McKee in July 2021 with a first round submission. It was the first time in 37 fights that he was stopped outside of a TKO loss to injury in 2016. And although he still held the lightweight title after that, he opted to quit the belt for that his brother, Patricky, can escape. – a race with which he succeeded.

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Freire has said he’s ready to give up the 155-pound title so he can put all his efforts to come back after the 145-pound strap he lost to the undefeated McKee. So, for now, we know Freire’s immediate future is featherweight.

What we don’t know, however, is what that path will look like. Will he have a chance to redeem himself against McKee right away, or will he have to go through one or two other featherweights to get back to a title shot?

Bellator has yet to announce a first title defense for McKee, so it looks like anything is possible for all of them. Should Freire get a rematch against McKee, or should he fight someone else first? Weigh in on the options in our poll below.

And above, check out Freire’s most recent victory, which came with a first round submission from Emmanuel Sanchez in the semifinals of the Bellator featherweight grand prix en route to the final match with McKee.

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