The Bellator 252 card on Bellator 252 on Thursday, Nov. 12, presents an interesting challenge for champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. The event serves as a part of the promotion’s featherweight grand prix tournament with quarterfinal bouts serving as the marquee matchups.
This means if Pitbull loses to Pedro Carvalho, the division will be guaranteed a new king.
Before you put money down, have a look at how the fighters in the main and co-main event compare.
Pitbull vs. Carvalho Betting Prediction
To get to the point, this one feels pretty cut and dry. The marketing of this fight could be a little deceptive because Carvalho is unbeaten in Bellator (4-0) and is 11-3 overall. He’s only been finished once with the other losses being by disqualification and by decision prior to his current 6-0 run.
However, Pitbull has been equally impressive and as Combat Press notes, he’s had a better strength of schedule. The champion is riding a 5-0 streak, 6-2 dating back to 2015 with one loss being due to injury while facing former UFC champion Benson Henderson.
As Combat Press’ Julius Choi and Andrew Sumian put it:
“Wilson Reis, whom he beat in 2010 in season four of Bellator’s featherweight tournament, would move on to have a seven-year tenure with the UFC in which he competed for the flyweight title against Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson at his peak.
Michael Chandler was knocked out by Patricio last year (at lightweight, making Pitbull a double champion) after just one minute of the first round, yet he also took a portal to the UFC and served as the back-up fighter for the recent title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje. Chandler now expects a fight with a top-five contender like Tony Ferguson.”
Bellator 252 Odds for Pitbull to Come Away with a Finish
Obviously, Pitbull getting a finish early means absorbing as little damage as possible. He is both a threat with his hands in the grappling department resulting in 21 finishes spanning 30 wins. 11 of those wins were submission victories, 37% and going with a grappling approach could mean less damage as he progresses in the tournament.
However, his current 5-0 streak only includes one win by finish, the KO of Chandler. Carvalho has only been put away once, so throughout this tournament, Pitbull should at least have his durability tested.
Even when it comes to durability, he has the edge as his time with Bellator dates back to when tournaments were the main focus for the promotion. Pitbull was the runner-up in 2010’s Bellator Season Two Featherweight Tournament before winning Season Four in 2011. Carvalho debuted for Bellator in 2018, meaning he lacks that experience.
In this fight, it’s not so much about who is going to win but how that victory occurs. Carvalho should have a good showing before this one goes to the scorecards, unless the level of skill/strength of schedule is just that drastically far apart. Combat Press made another noteworthy point, also about going the distance bettors should be aware of.
“[Carvalho] has only fought in four fights that have gone to a decision. While Carvalho is 3-1 in those scenarios, Pitbull has a 75 percent winning percentage in 12 fights in his career that went the full distance.”
Prediction: Patricio Pitbull defeats Pedro Carvalho by decision
Bellator 252 Co-Main Event Betting Prediction: Weichel vs. Sanchez 2
Emmanuel Sanchez could redeem himself on Thursday night. After suffering a split-decision loss to Daniel Weichel in 2016, Sanchez has gone 6-1 with three submission finishes, two triangle chokes and an arm-triangle choke.
Weichel has more experience at 40-11 overall and should be considered the better grappler with 22 submission wins. This was why Sanchez kept things on the feet four years ago. He should be expected to do the same again, but hopefully with even more improved skills.
Meanwhile, it could be argued that perhaps Weichel is at the beginning of a slow decline. While he is coming off a decision win over Saul Rogers in 2019, prior to that he’d had four bouts between 2016 and 2018 result in splits, going 2-2 since beating Sanchez the first time, again a split.
Aside from having far more fights than Sanchez, he is also 35 while Sanchez is 30. One must ask how many more punches Weichel’s punch card has left. Typically around this point, those in Weichel’s shoes have five years or so left in their careers.
Only time will tell because Weichel did very well, resulting in two points in the contest where a stoppage from strikes seemed imminent when it was expected to be a battle on the ground. If he stays on the feet with Sanchez again though, OddsUSA suspects “El Matador” to get the nod.
Prediction: Emmanuel Sanchez defeats Daniel Weichel by decision
Looking Ahead to Bellator 253
The first semifinal bout of this tournament is already booked. A.J. McKee will face Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 253. If Patricio Pitbull advances as expected, he will face either Sanchez or Weichel in possible rematches. Not only did Pitbull beat both of these men, he did so in consecutive bouts around four months apart.
Expect Pitbull to surely advance to the semifinals where he will have fresh match-ups. Either way, neither McKee or Caldwell have his level of experience. It seems fair to expect Pitbull’s dominance to continue.
Pitbull dropped the title to Daniel Strauss in 2015. He immediately earned another crack by defeating Henry Corales in 2016. His 2016 loss to Henderson was at lightweight, so he still had the third fight with Strauss on deck in 2017, which he won to immediately take the belt back.
All this is to say Pitbull has had a hardly interrupted six year run as Bellator featherweight champion. He is the face of the division and should also be expected to actually keep his champ-champ status by defending at 155 at some point.