Bellator 297 features a double-header of championship action in Chicago, with one man standing on the verge of an unprecedented achievement.
Patricio Pitbull already holds the Bellator featherweight title, and relinquished the lightweight title – and his double-champ status – in order to take on a fresh challenge. That challenge comes to the fore this Friday night when Pitbull moves down to bantamweight to challenge reigning champion Sergio Pettis for the 135-pound title in the co-main event of the evening at Wintrust Arena.
Title fights are always a special occasion, but for Pitbull, this one comes with added stakes. Victory for the Brazilian would see him accomplish something no other fighter has managed with one of the major global promotions – becoming a three-division world champion.
Speaking to the press ahead of his bout with Pettis, Pitbull said he is relishing the opportunity of trying to become a three-weight champ.
“I’ve been the champ for many years here at 145 pounds here in Bellator,” he said.
“I went up to 155 pounds, knocked out Michael Chandler and won it, vacated the belt and my Patricky, my brother, won it. Bellator offered me the opportunity to win the 135-pound belt, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. I couldn’t be happier.”
Pitbull’s main weight class is 145 pounds, and he enjoyed success when he moved up to lightweight. But the challenge of dropping to 135 pounds presents difficulties and tests that he hasn’t had to deal with before as he looks to make championship weight safely and healthily, before competing at the elite level 24 hours later. But, despite the perceived difficulties with dropping down a weight class, Pitbull said he has been surprised at how straightforward and smooth things have gone for him so far.
“I can’t believe how easy this process of going down a weight class has been,” he said.
“I’ve been on this diet since I beat the Rizin champion, Kleber (Koike), in December last year. I’m eight pounds over. It’s easier making this weight than it was for me to make featherweight. I’m great, I’m ready, and it was easier than ever. I’m ready to shock the world.
“I don’t like to be comfortable. I always like to move forward, to embrace challenges. I don’t think about (my legacy). I’m not worried about what people are going to say about me, I have a fighter that is very good and technical in front of me in Sergio Pettis. My main focus is to become the 135-pound champion, and then we’ll see where to go from there.”
“It’s going to be a war. We’re both strikers, but I believe my power is going to be the difference. My will (is the deciding factor). Nobody has my will — nobody.”
Incredibly, Pitbull has even considered the potential for becoming a four-division champion.
“First, I have to get the victory. I don’t know (what’s next),” he said.
“We have Patchy Mix as the interim champion. Maybe we go for a fourth belt. I’m fresh. I’m ready. I think [I could make flyweight]. Now, I’m six months into my diet and I realized that it’s possible. So, after this fight if I win the fight, I’m on it.”
But, if he can become the first three-division champion in a global MMA promotion at Bellator 297, Pitbull will surely elevate himself into the discussion of the sport’s all-time great athletes. But, despite the plaudits that would follow such an achievement, Pitbull is not letting the GOAT discussion cloud his focus ahead of fight night in Chicago.
“I never like to talk or think about who’s the best; I think that’s for other people to do,” he said.
“My focus is accomplishing a mission. Let others decide. Let them look at the numbers, let them look for the facts. They can decide for themselves. But the facts are the facts.”
If he does triumph on Friday night, he will certainly carry a differentiating factor in the GOAT conversation, as he explained succinctly.
“There are a lot of GOATs in this game, but no one has three titles. That is the difference.”