Pitbull vs Emmanuel Sanchez will be headlining Bellator 255 this Friday, with the promotion making its return for the first time in 2021. This bout will be in the Featherweight World Grand-Prix semi-final, with Pitbull’s title on the line. The winner of this bout will progress to the final to face A.J. McKee.
There are currently five fights on the main card and seven on the prelims. We will see Usman Nurmagomedov making his Bellator debut in the co-main event against Mike Hamel. Neiman Gracie will also make his return in a welterweight bout against Jason Jackson.
The Rematch: Pitbull vs Emmanuel Sanchez
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (31-4-0, 19-4-0 Bellator) will be breaking a record no matter the outcome this weekend as he’ll be hitting 24 fights in the promotion. Doing so will break the tie with Michael Chandler and David Rickels.
The Brazilian started his MMA career back in 2004 at 16 years of age. For the first five and half years of his professional career, he amassed a record of 12-0 fighting in his native country Brazil. This included 10 stoppages, seven of which were submissions.
In Pitbull’s debut at Bellator 15, he fought William Romero in the Bellator Season Two Featherweight Tournament Quarter Final. Within two minutes, Pitbull showed the fans what he’s all about.
Romero sat on the floor and waited for Pitbull to pounce, and that he did. Pitbull targeted the ankle and put Romero in a horrible-looking heel hook, which was enough for Romero to tap. Then, a unanimous decision win over Wilson Reis saw him earn a chance to face Joe Warren in the final.
Pitbull showed his capabilities against Warren even though he tasted defeat for the first time. A stunning knockdown from Pitbull in the first-round saw him pounce on Warren and look for the submission. He was inches from finishing him, but the horn sounded to signal the end of the first round.
Warren brought Pitbull down in the second and third, pounding him with punches and elbows. The American did enough to be awarded the split decision victory and go on to fight champion at the time Joe Soto.
The determination to fight is an outstanding attribute of Pitbull. He tasted his first defeat and then in 2011, he was straight back into the next tournament. This year he looked different, knocking out his opponents left, right, and centre.
A dominant display over Daniel Straus in the final saw him face Pat Curran for the featherweight championship. Warren was knocked out by Curran, which led to a match-up between Pitbull and Curran. An extremely close and exciting contest saw Pitbull fall short. The judges awarded a split decision victory for Curran.
Pitbull bounced back for another year, this time folding up the likes of Jared Downing, Diego Nunes, and Justin Wilcox. A second showdown came against Curran, who actually lost his title to Straus, but then won it back to face Pitbull for a second time.
FINALLY, it was Pitbull’s time for gold. He controlled how the fight went, letting Curran come towards him. Some vicious strikes from Pitbull saw him knock Curran onto the canvas in the second and third round.
With 10 seconds left in the fight, Pitbull wanted the finish. Curran faced some heavy knees and punches, but he survived. Pitbull was finally the featherweight champion after four-and-a-half-years of fighting for gold.
His first title defence came in a brawl with a familiar face in Straus. After three hard-fought rounds, he got the rear-naked choke in the fourth.
At Bellator 138 came one of Pitbull’s most staggering knockouts. Daniel Weichel was giving the champion a scare, knocking him down in the first round, and in the second throwing everything from knees to punches.
Pitbull looked hurt, but Weichel went all guns blazing and left himself vulnerable, which you don’t do against one of the most ruthless fighters in the game. Pitbull found a gap where he caught Weichel with a beautiful left hook to drop him and pounce to the ground and pound to retain his title for a second time.
After his brother, Patricky Freire, lost to Chandler, Pitbull moved up to the lightweight division to try and earn a title shot. He would face Benson Henderson at Bellator 160. The bout ended in a devastating fashion with Pitbull stopping himself in early round two due to a leg injury. Henderson was awarded the TKO and it was revealed that Pitbull had broken his shin in the first round after Henderson checked a low kick with his knee.
Once he recovered, it was back to winning and defending titles for Pitbull. For a fourth time he faced Straus, and for a third time, he was victorious, winning back his title. He would then defend the title once more against Weichel.
The first Pitbull vs Emmanuel Sanchez match-up was at Bellator 209. This was an extremely anticipated bout, with Sanchez going for his first title. The fight had close moments but Pitbull was the closest to finishing. He bloodied the face of Sanchez and Sanchez was inches from being knocked out by Pitbull. The judges awarded a unanimous decision victory for Pitbull.
It’s surprising to see that the UFC didn’t come for Pitbull, as he ended up signing a multi-fight contract with Bellator after that. In the first fight of his new deal, he faced Chandler for the lightweight championship. He won the fight via TKO in the first round to become the second Bellator fighter after Ryan Bader to hold two titles at the same time.
Pitbull has become one of the most dominant featherweights in the whole of MMA. After beating Juan Archuleta and Pedro Carvalho, a victory over Sanchez would give Pitbull an opportunity to set up an incredible final match-up against McKee.
Emmanuel “El Matador” Sanchez (20-4-0, 12-3-0 Bellator) is gunning for revenge against Pitbull after losing his chance at a title in November 2018.
Sanchez is a black belt in karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, with extremely impressive stand-up and submission skills. He only has one KO in his career, which came against Gustavo Rodriguez back in 2014 while fighting in North American Fighting Championship, but the man is seriously talented with his quick pace and leg kicks.
An awesome eight submissions have got him this far in his career and with Sanchez’s electric pace on the ground, he’s extremely hard to handle. The American started in Bellator in October 2014, going in with an 8-1 record. He was signed up after impressing with three first-round finishes in his three previous fights.
It was a stunning debut for Sanchez against Stephen Banaszak. At 2:18 into the first round, Sanchez caught Banaszak in the rear-naked choke. From here, Sanchez proved he was one to watch in this division.
After a two-fight win-streak in the promotion, Sanchez faced a tough test in Curran. It was a strong performance from Curran, winning 30-27 on all three judges’ scorecards. It was the first taste of defeat in the promotion for Sanchez.
Something you don’t see much in the sport came in Sanchez’s next four fights. Each bout went to a split decision, with him being victorious over Henry Corrales, Justin Lawrence, and Daniel Pineda. In the fourth bout, he wasn’t so lucky. A back and forth fight saw him lose to Weichel on a split, which dampened his chances of a title shot.
It was back to the drawing board for Sanchez at Bellator 170, with him facing Georgi Karakhanyan. Sanchez won on a majority decision, with one point being taken from him in the second round due to two illegal knee strikes. His next fight proved he can beat the best in the game, beating former Bellator bantamweight champion Marcos Galvão on a unanimous decision.
Two stunning triangle chokes over Straus and Sam Sicilia in his next two bouts saw him worthy of a fight for that title. As we know, Pitbull vs Emmanuel Sanchez 1 was won by Pitbull. But, it was without a doubt a learning curve for Sanchez going up against the most dominant fighter in the whole promotion.
The opening round of the Grand Prix this time around came at Bellator 226 for Sanchez, facing an exciting prospect in Ty-wan Claxton. After a close first round, Sanchez used his attributes to grab the neck of Claxton and perform his trademark triangle choke to finish the fight.
After losing the first time around, Sanchez wanted revenge on Weichel in the quarter-finals. In the second round, Weichel crumbled from a knee to the body, and Sanchez was hammering his opponent. The referee let the fight continue as we saw a stunning second round with both fighters swinging punches.
Sanchez tried everything to finish the fight, but he struggled with the determination of Weichel to carry on throughout. Sanchez won the bout on a unanimous decision, which leads us to Pitbull vs Emmanuel Sanchez on April 2nd.
Pitbull vs Emmanuel Sanchez: The Breakdown
Both fighters fought their quarter-final bouts at Bellator 252, so the preparation time has been the same. Sanchez has become even more experienced since the last meeting, fighting three impressive fights. With Pitbull going the distance 12 times in his career and Sanchez 15 times, there’s a good chance we may see another five-round classic.
So, how does Sanchez beat Pitbull? If Sanchez can bring the best out of his submission abilities, this could be his best chance. In the last fight, he took down Pitbull a couple of times but Pitbull grappled well and forced Sanchez on the bottom, with Pitbull spending the final rounds in a mount position.
We could see a moment of magic from either fighter. Both have a quick pace on the feet, and all it takes is one punch from these two to stumble an opponent. If Sanchez rocks Pitbull, he needs to know to be careful and not go out swinging. We saw what happened when Weichel did it and got knocked out after looking like the better fighter against Pitbull.
Pitbull vs Emmanuel Sanchez: The Prediction
WOW. This is tough. Sanchez has come on leaps and bounds since their last fight, and he is extremely impressive. Pitbull holds many records in Bellator history and it’s hard to see many people denying him more and more. Sanchez could be the one, but not this time.
This is expected to be exciting from the off, and it is looking like it will be a fantastic fight. The anticipation is another level compared to the first fight, with one of the biggest match-ups in Bellator history lined up in the final against McKee.
Pitbull vs Emmanuel Sanchez Prediction: Pitbull via third round TKO
So who do you see winning the Pitbull vs Emmanuel Sanchez fight? Let us know your prediction in the comments below!
Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images