Patricio Pitbull denies turning down Benson Henderson matchup
At Bellator 160 this weekend, former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson is set to fight former Bellator featherweight champion Patricio (Pitbull) Freire in a super-fight with a lightweight title shot on the line. Henderson told SI.com last week that the fight almost didn't get booked, that Freire needed some more coaxing, but Pitbull is telling a different story.
That tweet came after Henderson was quoted in this space last week, describing his talks with Bellator: "I said I want to fight someone, let’s set something up, let’s get something big. I want to get in there again. So they threw a couple names around. I think Patricio said no at first, but I think they ended up having to guarantee or say that he gets a title shot at 155 also. So whoever wins gets a title shot at 155. Then after he heard that he then agreed to take the fight."
"My manager called me and said Bellator wanted to have me in a super-fight with Benson Henderson and I said yes right away, and the call was over," Freire told SI.com by phone through a translator. "I didn't ask for any guarantees. There were no prior conversations with Bellator regarding a title shot."
The title shot implication of the bout, says Freire, wasn't revealed until the rest of the world heard about it as well.
"When they went to the media to make the fight public, they said it is going to be for a title shot, but there was never any discussion," Freire said. "We accepted this fight for what it was, a super fight against Ben Henderson."
It would be perfectly logical for Freire not to ask for a lightweight title shot. His brother Patricky competes in that division and fought Michael Chandler for the vacant belt in late June at Bellator 157: Dynamite 2.
For comparison, Nate Diaz has routinely said he is uninterested in fighting welterweights or for the welterweight title because it is the weight class in which his brother competes.
Moreover, Freire has his sights set on a bigger fight.
"The belt for me is meaningless. After Michael Chandler said at the press conference that he wanted to take out my entire family, he made it all personal," Freire said. "All that I care about is him, not the belt around his waist. I know that winning or losing this fight against Henderson, I'll have my chance to fight Chandler in the future, and I just want to take his head off."