Not only will Diego Nunes make his Bellator debut tonight in Temecula, California, but the UFC vet will take on one of the promotion’s top featherweights in the tourney’s opening round. Standing across from him will be Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (18-2), who has won two tournaments to date, and his only losses have come against former champ Joe Warren and current champion Pat Curran. Winning two tournaments is a pretty good way to become one of Bellator’s top fighters.
Of course, Nunes (18-4) is no joke either, and although he was let go by the UFC following his decision loss to Nick Lentz in January, “The Gun” went 7-4 during his run with the UFC and WEC. While speaking to MMA Junkie.com recently, here’s what Nunes had to say about fighting Freire in the tourney’s opening round, and how he’s been working on improving his game.
“For sure, Patricio is the second best featherweight, after the champion,” Nunes said. “He’s one of Bellator’s best fighters. I think the winner of this fight will be the winner of the tournament. I think we are the best two fighters in the tournament. It couldn’t be better – I’m starting out with the most difficult opponent. I was expecting to face Patricio in the final. But I think Bellator made a great booking, Diego Nunes vs. Patricio ‘Pitbull’ to kick off this tournament.”
“Pat (Curran) showed how to use length and point fighting to win,” Nunes said. “But I changed my own style. I don’t back up anymore. I respond in kind when I’m attacked. And I hit hard. Patricio is a shorter fighter. I’ll be using my muay Thai to neutralize his attacks. I’ll be using a strong muay Thai with hard punches and harder kicks to neutralize him.”
It certainly has the makings of a memorable battle, even if it’s kind of surprising Bellator decided to match the two up right off the bat.
Bellator 99 will be hosted by the Pechanga Resort and the main card will be broadcast live on SPIKE.
Stay tuned to MMA Frenzy.com for all your Bellator news and coverage.