Freire to fight Kennedy at Bellator Belfast event


Patricio “Pitbull” Freire has built a reputation in Bellator for being relentless. That apparently applies to not just his aggressiveness inside the cage but also his persistent desire to get in there and fight.

Freire will defend his featherweight championship against Jeremy Kennedy on just three weeks’ notice at Bellator Champions Series Belfast on March 22, Bellator announced Thursday.

Freire (34-7) was scheduled to compete at last weekend’s PFL champions vs. Bellator champions event in Saudi Arabia, but his opponent, PFL titlist Jesus Pinedo, withdrew a week before the fight.

The PFL booked a replacement opponent, 2023 championship finalist Gabriel Braga, but at weigh-ins he was deemed unfit to compete. So now Freire will turn right around and take part in Bellator’s first standalone event since the company was bought by the PFL in November.

The 36-year-old Brazilian, who is in his third reign as 145-pound champ and also had a run with the lightweight title, has not defended his featherweight belt since October 2022. Since then, Freire had a nontitle bout on a Bellator-vs.-Rizin card, made an unsuccessful attempt at winning the bantamweight title and faced another opponent from Rizin, the top Japanese fight promotion. Freire has lost two in a row.

Kennedy (19-3, 1 NC) has lost only once in his last eight bouts. He was already scheduled to be on the Belfast card, facing Ireland’s James Gallagher. Now the 31-year-old Canadian gets a title shot.

The addition of Freire vs. Kennedy gives the Bellator card two title bouts. Bellator previously announced that Corey Anderson and Karl Moore will fight it out for the vacant light heavyweight title, which Vadim Nemkov left behind in order to move to heavyweight.

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