3 next opponents for Patricio Pitbull after Bellator Belfast

Patricio Pitbull stopped Jeremy Kennedy at Bellator Champions Series Belfast.
Patricio Pitbull
Patricio Pitbull / Bellator
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Bellator featherweight champion Patricio "Pitbull" Freire snapped a recent losing skid emphatically in his return to the division's throne.

Freire rallied from an early scare against Jeremy Kennedy to defend his title at Bellator Champions Series Belfast. It marked his return to the division after nearly two years since his last featherweight title defense.

Freire mixed in a flurry of punches in Round 3 to stop Kennedy inside the Bellator cage. He proved he remains one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world with his performance. After his win in Belfast, Freire has a few options for his next fight, including a possible rebooking of a recently canceled fight. Let's take a look at three potential options for Freire's next featherweight title defense.

3. AJ McKee

AJ McKee and Freire could settle the score of one of the biggest rivalries in Bellator history. McKee, now a top lightweight contender, has publically stated that the Freire trilogy would be the only fight he'd be willing to move back to 145 pounds for. He and Freire had two of the most iconic clashes in recent Bellator history.

McKee handed Freire a stunning loss at Bellator 263 before Freire got revenge in their rematch at Bellator 277. It was a back-and-forth rematch from start to finish, with some believing that McKee deserved the nod on the official scorecards.

McKee made the move up to lightweight following the rematch defeat to Freire. He hasn't lost since the move to 155 pounds with recent victories over PFL star Clay Collard and Bellator lightweight Sidney Outlaw. Freire held the Bellator lightweight title earlier in his career, making a move back up to 155 pounds not out of the question. But, it's uncertain if he's willing to make another weight class stage at this stage of his career.

McKee submitted Collard in his most recent fight at PFL vs. Bellator in February. He's also earned wins over Spike Carlyle and Roberto de Souza during his current streak. Freire has a slew of potential featherweight contenders ready to challenge for his title, but McKee would likely get the shot if he moves back down to featherweight.

A timeline for McKee's Bellator return is uncertain, although he's likely one or two lightweight wins away from a title shot. If he wants to deter from his current path, a trilogy with Freire would be one of the biggest fights of 2024.