The Bellator featherweight title remains around Patricio “Pibull” Freire’s waist, and the other bracket of the promotion’s semifinals in the featherweight grand prix are set after Bellator 252.
Freire knocked out Pedro Carvalho at the 2:10 mark of the first round of Thursday’s headliner at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The two-division champ set a devastating tone early with heavy counters before finishing off the job with a left hook-straight right combo that sent Carvalho crashing to the mat.
“Pitbull” now has won seven of eight since recapturing the featherweight title from Daniel Straus in 2017.
“It’s almost impossible to take my right hand on the chin and keep standing, and I knew that,” said Freire, who advances in the $1 million 145-pound tournament to rematch Emmanuel Sanchez, a fighter he beat via unanimous decision in 2018. The other bracket sees A.J. McKee square off with Darrion Caldwell.
Sanchez outworked Weichel to earn his second crack at Freire, who also holds the lightweight title.
“He’s tough,” Freire said after his win and before a staredown with his former opponent. “I was expecting that. He’s more dynamic, so I can’t wait to fight him again.”
Freire nearly secured a guillotine choke after landing one of his devastating counters early in the fight, but Carvalho, a product of rival gym SBG Ireland, scrambled free and got back to his feet. The second big shot, it was clear Carvalho wouldn’t last against Freire’s power, but he continued to press the issue and paid dearly.