Eddie Alvarez may not be the lightweight champion by the end of the season, but that’s what Patricky Freire hopes.
After winning a tournament fight for the first time since 2011, the possibility of facing Alvarez again gives "Pitbull" an extra motivation coming into the lightweight tournament semifinal against Derek Campos at Bellator 117.
"Winning the tournament means that I will fight for the title and who knows become the champion," Freire told MMAFighting.com. "Becoming the champion is what everybody wants, and maybe I’ll have a rematch as well."
Alvarez defeated "Pitbull" via knockout in a first-round battle in 2012, and claimed the lightweight gold next against Michael Chandler.
"The chance of fighting him motivates me in a way because I know he’s a guy that trains most at Blackzilians, even more than Vitor Belfort," he said. "I think that it’s going to be an exciting fight to watch, an aggressive battle that we all love."
"In the first fight, I learned that you have to be prepared for any situation," Freire continued. "Alvarez never kicked in his fights, and he has been using his legs to kick a lot lately."
First things first, and "Pitbull" needs to win a tournament if he wants to rematch Alvarez for the title. The Brazilian stopped David Rickels in the quarterfinals, and he was happy to finish him.
"The feeling of beating the favorite in his town after everything he said about me was great," he said. "It was a nice way to shut him up. I was motivated because they put me in there to lose and I loved to ruin their party."
Derek Campos, who enters the semifinals riding a five-fight win streak, brings a different challenge to the cage, says Freire.
"He’s a wrestler who evolved a lot in his striking game and has a regular jiu-jitsu, but I don’t think he’ll try to stand and fight with me," he said. "He will probably try to grab me."
"Pitbull" met Campos at Bellator 113 and says "he seems to be a nice guy", but that doesn’t mean he won’t try to finish him.
"It’s always great to win a fight by knockout," he said. "You earn respect when you knock someone out, but my goal is always to win no matter how. I don’t like to leave it to the judges because you never know how they are going to score it."
Derek Anderson and Marcin Held will battle for the other spot in the tournament final, and the Brazilian doesn’t think that the last man to beat him will advance.
"Derek Anderson has evolved a lot and Marcin Held has a good jiu-jitsu with some good leg submissions," he said. "I think Marcin Held wins the fight."