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Injury forces champ Patricio Freire out of Bellator 188; Lahat vs. Labiano new headliner

Injury has caused a major blow to this Thursday’s Bellator 188.

Featherweight champion Patricio Freire (26-4 MMA, 14-4 BMMA), who was supposed to meet Daniel Weichel (39-9, 8-1 BMMA) in the night’s title headliner, today announced that he had to withdraw due to “multiple injuries.” News of the canceled main event was first reported on Twitter by Ram Giboa.

Bellator 188 takes place Thursday at Menora Mivtachim Arena Arena in Tel Aviv, Israel. The main card airs on Spike the following day via tape delay.

In a statement released on Instagram, “Pitbull” Freire elaborated on the issues that plagued his camp. While he tried his best to work around a series of injuries, Freire said that, last Thursday, one of them got worse. After a sparring session on Friday, the champ and his team decided he was in no condition to step in the cage.

“It’d be a disrespect to me, to the fans, to my opponent and to Bellator,” Freire stated. “I’ll have to take 30 days off, and then I’ll be able to start training again. I plan to fight in February at the latest and defend my belt against Daniel Weichel.”

“I’m sad to announce I’ll no longer be fighting in Israel next week. Multiple injuries prevent me to perform.

A couple months ago due to a training accident I suffered a serious injury and started treating it immediately. I had to stop training for a few weeks and then I was able to start with several limitations. But due to those, other parts of my body were overcharged and new injuries kept piling up.

I’ve been doing physical therapy three times a day, I was lent a 25k dollars machine to sleep with every day, and although I wasn’t in my best condition I had no intention to pull out. In all my years in Bellator I only pulled out of a fight once due to a hand fracture.

Up until Wednesday the fight was 100% on. On Thursday came the doubt as one of the injuries aggravated. I deliberated with my team what to do up to 2am. I decided to test myself on Friday on my last sparring session. And then it became obvious I had no condition to step up in that cage. It’d be a disrespect to me, to the fans, to my opponent and to Bellator.

I’ll have to take 30 days off and then I’ll be able to start training again. I plan to fight in February at the latest and defend my belt against Daniel Weichel.

See you all soon.”

Freire and Weichel met before, in 2015, at Bellator 183. Freire was the winner via second-round knockout. Freire would have entered the rematch off a tetralogy meeting with former champion Daniel Straus – which saw “Pitbull” re-claim the featherweight title. Weichel, in turn, went on a four-fight streak after the loss to Freire.

MMAjunkie was able to confirm with Freire’s camp that, as originally reported by MMAFighting.com, Bellator lightweight Patricky Freire tried to step in for his brother. While Patricio never got to make the trip to Israel, Patricky is there with Pitbull Brothers athlete Luiz Victor Rocha, who fights on the preliminary card.

While the former l55-pound title challenger was willing to either meet Weichel at lightweight or anyone else under a 160-pound catchweight limit, Bellator didn’t take him up on it. Bellator has confirmed that a featherweight meeting between Israel’s Noad Lahat and Jeremiah Labiano is now the night’s main event.

Freire’s camp is now hoping that Rocha’s fight, against Israeli fighter Kirill Medvedovski, will get upgraded to the main card. The promotion, however, hasn’t released a new bout order yet.

For more on Bellator 188, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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