Patricky Pitbull puts his Bellator lightweight belt on the line against undefeated Usman Nurmagomedov this Friday in Chicago and ensures he is 100 percent focused on keeping his gold. However, he hopes a clear win can convince Scott Cocker and Nobuyuki Sakakibara to put him on the Bellator vs. RIZIN December 31 in Japan.
“I asked for it before I was given [Nurmagomedov] fight,” Pitbull said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I did not know how many athletes would fight in Japan, but I asked to be there. I love fighting in Japan and wanted to fight by those rules again. If I come out unharmed and they want to throw me there, I will be ready. I would be very happy.”
Pitbull fought three times in Japan in 2019, representing Bellator at the RIZIN Lightweight Grand Prix and knocking out Tatsuya Kawajiri and Luis Gustavo before losing in the final to Tofig Musaev. To promote this year together, Bellator has decided to send his brother Patricio Pitbull, AJ Macchi, Juan Archuleta, Kyoji Horiguchi and Gadzhi Rabadanov to Japan.
The Bellator and RIZIN belts will not be on the line when featherweight champions Pitbull and Kleber Koike face off in the ring in the main event, nor will Roberto Satoshi’s 155-pound gold when he faces McKee.
“The advice I give to my brother [about fighting in Japan] I mean, when you get a chance, hit him on the head,” Patricky laughed. “Fights are cooler, fans love this old school style. It reminds us of when we started. We started training back in the Vale Tudo days, watching the Minotaur and the Cro Cop and those guys who fight in PRIDE. We practiced without a mouthpiece, kicking and stomping each other on the heads without equipment. [laughs]”.
Koike recently won the RIZIN title by defeating Juntara Ushika for his seventh consecutive finish in Japan, and Patricki sees similarities between him and Fabrizio Guerreiro, who fought his brother in 2013 at Bellator 103.
“[Guerreiro] he didn’t have as many submissions as Kleber, but he was taller and had some submissions in Bellator, and my brother messed him up,” Pitbull said. “Patricio pretended that everything was easy, stepped over him. I believe that it will be the same or even worse, because Patricio is much stronger and difficult to break and subdue. Patricio is much better.
“Kleber is thinner, but we don’t underestimate him. We never underestimate the opponents, we are always focused on winning and what dangers the opponents present, but I think it will be an easy fight for Patricio.”
However, the Bellator lightweight champion is not expecting such an easy night for McKee. McKee defeated Spike Carlisle by decision in his lightweight debut in October, while Satoshi enters the ring after finishing a streak of five fights, four of them in less than five minutes.
“I think it’s going to be a good fight,” he said. “Satoshi is very technical and has made a lot of progress in MMA, both in his feet and in adapting his jiu-jitsu to MMA. I think it’s close combat. McKee’s last fight was a joke. If he makes a mistake in this fight, he can be handed over. If he fights like last time, Satoshi might get him. Satoshi does not waste materials. When you go down to earth with him, he catches you.”
McKee won’t become RIZIN Champion if he beats Satoshi in Japan, and Pitbull doesn’t expect him to earn a shot at the Bellator belt either.
“Maybe because of his name and the fact that he [featherweight] champion but I don’t think he deserves [a title shot]Pitbull said. “He hasn’t fought anyone yet. [at 155]. He came up and already called me, but I heard that he was offered a fight with [Alexandr] Chablis and ran away [laughs]. I don’t think he has balls.”
Bellator will host a 155-pound tournament in 2023, and Pitbull hopes he will have the opportunity to compete in his native Brazil one day, especially if McKee ends up behind the cage.
“They said almost everything is ready, that Bellator will come to Brazil, and if this fight takes place at the Grand Prix, I would like to fight him in Brazil so that he can feel the heat,” Pitbull said. “[Fans] didn’t let him sleep. If it’s in Natal, he’s screwed [laughs]”.