Patricio Freire already has the best résumé of any fighter in Bellator history. Now he's trying to add the title of Grand Prix champion to his already prodigious legacy.
"Pitbull" stopped Pedro Carvalho by knockout at 2 minutes, 10 seconds of the first round to retain the Bellator featherweight title Thursday night in the main event of Bellator 252 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. The bout was also a quarterfinal contest in the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix, a tournament in which Freire is defending his title throughout.
Freire will now face Emmanuel Sanchez, putting his belt on the line in the semifinals of the Grand Prix at a later date. The two have already fought, with "Pitbull" picking up a close, unanimous decision title defense in 2018. On Thursday, Sanchez beat Daniel Weichel by unanimous decision in another Grand Prix quarterfinal bout.
"Now he's more dynamic and I like his style, so I can't wait to fight him again," Freire said of Sanchez.
Freire vs. Carvalho was supposed to happen on March 13 at Mohegan Sun. The fighters were weighed in and ready to go, but the morning of the fights, Bellator executives made the decision to cancel the event because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's too many months just waiting for one fight," Freire said.
"Pitbull" made up for lost time. He ran through Carvalho, a teammate of Conor McGregor at SBG Ireland. Freire landed a right hand and left hook early, dropping Carvalho. "Pitbull" tried to lock in a guillotine, but Carvalho scrambled to his feet. That wasn't a good place for him, either. Freire followed up with a left hand, then a zinging left-hook-right-cross combination that put Carvalho down for good. Referee Mike Beltran jumped in to stop it.
Freire (31-4) is ESPN's No. 4-ranked featherweight fighter in the world. The Brazilian is also Bellator's lightweight champion, following a first-round TKO of current UFC fighter Michael Chandler in 2019.
Freire, 33, now has the most wins (19) in Bellator history and extended his record for the most title wins in promotion history (nine). "Pitbull" is a two-time Bellator featherweight champion and is currently on a six-fight winning streak.
Carvalho (11-4) was on a six-fight winning streak coming in. The 25-year-old from Portugal remains one of Bellator's most promising young fighters.
Also on the card Thursday, Yaroslav Amosov moved to 25-0 with a split decision victory over previously undefeated prospect Logan Storley. In addition, Aaron Pico, one of the most ballyhooed prospects in MMA history, continued to get back on track, scoring a violent overhand right knockout of John de Jesus for his third consecutive victory.