Best male Bellator fighter: Patricio “Pitbull” Freire
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire is the younger of the “Pitbull” brothers, two of Bellator’s signature fighters throughout its growth. But Patricio Freire is the more successful of the pair, overcoming strong competition en route to winning nearly all of his MMA bouts and becoming Bellator’s second champ-champ.
Patricio Freire made his professional MMA debut in 2004 at just 16, scoring finishes in all but one of his first 12 MMA bouts before joining Bellator for the season two featherweight tournament in 2010. He defeated William Romero and Wilson Reis but ultimately lost to Joe Warren in the final. He came back to win the season four tournament, besting Daniel Straus in the final, but he came up short in his title fight against Pat Curran.
In 2013, Freire won the featherweight tournament for a second time, and 10 months later, he bested Curran in a rematch to win the championship. Freire defended the championship by submitting Straus and knocking out Daniel Weichel, but he dropped the title in a trilogy bout with Straus.
After a 2016 that saw him defeat Henry Corrales and suffer a leg injury against Benson Henderson, Freire and Straus faced off for a fourth time, with Freire submitting him to regain the featherweight title. Freire defended the belt in a rematch with Weichel, as well as against Emmanuel Sanchez, before defeating Michael Chandler to win the lightweight title and become Bellator’s second champ-champ at Bellator 221.
- Thomas Albano