Bellator MMA lightweight champion Patricky Pitbull believes that while upcoming opponent Usman Nurmagomedov is dangerous, the Dagestani has been given a title shot at Bellator 288 because of his famous surname.
A cousin of now-retired ex-UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, Usman marks the first title defense for Brazil’s Pitbull, properly Patricky Freire.
“I was surprised, because I felt there were some names that should be ahead of him. Tofiq [Musayev], Brent Primus, the guy that beat him [Alexander Shabliy],” Pitbull (24-10) told Cageside Press in an exclusive interview recently, speaking via translator. “So yeah. I was surprised that he was the one they chose to fight me for the belt.”
When asked if he felt Nurmagomedov’s name punched his ticket to the championship fight, Pitbull replied “Yeah, for sure. I mean, he hasn’t fought anyone in the top 10, and it’s pretty clear to me that although he’s a very good fighter, his name is what’s really more for him to get the title shot. Others have done more in the division to get the title shot in front of him.”
Pitbull, of course, was supposed to fight Sidney Outlaw earlier this year, but was forced out of the fight. As it turns out, he had tried to fight through injury while in camp, but it became apparent he would not be able to compete.
“We started in camp injured, and I tried to recover as I was training. When we got very close to the fight, I injured it again, in the same place,” Pitbull explained, without pinpointing the exact nature of the injury. “It made it impossible to make it to the fight. I could have tried to fight and catch him early, like Tofiq [Musayev] did. But if he hit me in the place of my injury, I would have been in no condition to continue fighting. It was a risk that my team and everyone said wasn’t worth it, that I wasn’t in perfect condition to be fighting.”
It’s been just over a year since Patricky Pitbull won the Bellator lightweight championship, and when we spoke, it was the day before the anniversary of his title win. Pitbull, however, was oblivious to the fast-approaching date, so entrenched in fight camp he was.
“I’ve been training so much and so hard these days that I didn’t even realize I was about to make one year as champion. I’m so focused on this fight right now,” he stated. But the Brazilian carries with him fond memories of his historic victory over Peter Queally in Dublin, Ireland. “To me it was a great experience, the way that I won this title, where I won this title, everything that surrounded us. Everything was like a dream.”
Since attaining gold, Pitbull admits that while much of his life remains the same, “some things changed.” That includes how people approach him, for one.
“I can feel that people talk to me with a bit more respect and recognition. People come talk to me, they have a little bit more deference than they used to have, before I had the belt. But as far as my personal life, everything remains the same.”
Patricly Pitbull looks to defend his lightweight title against Usman Nurmagomedov this Friday, November 18, 2022 in the co-main event of Bellator 288 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois.