Patricio Pitbull did 5 rounds of sparring after fight cancellation in Saudi Arabia, weight not an issue for Bellator Belfast

Patricio Pitbull flew to Saudi Arabia in mid-February to face Jesus Pinedo in a champ vs. champ clash at the PFL vs. Bellator card on Feb. 24, but he had to switch plans when Gabriel Braga replaced an injured Pinedo on short notice. Then Braga pulled out moments before the weigh-ins, leaving the Bellator star with no foe.

Pitbull said he “completed the mission” in Saudi Arabia even though there was no official fight. Then he returned to Brazil the morning after the event.

“We went to the warm-up room at the hotel, and did five rounds of sparring there,” Pitbull said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast. “We followed the schedule as if we were fighting. There was no real fight, but I went there and sparred the twins that Eric Albarracin brought form Kazakhstan [Idris and Chingis Idrisov].”

Later on, Pitbull agreed to defend his Bellator title at Bellator Champions Series Belfast, which takes place Friday.

Pitbull cut weight for his cancelled fight in Saudi Arabia, but he said that going down to 145 pounds a second time in four weeks wouldn’t be a problem since “I kept my weight low.” The decision to spar in Saudi Arabia was to reset his mind after the match was ultimately cancelled, he explained.

“[I wanted to] reach the goal that was programmed to happen,” Pitbull said. “We know that a fight cancellation is frustrating to anyone, but we have to keep the body awake for the goal that was planned. When we went down and did five rounds of MMA there, it was fire. Those who witnessed the training know it was no joke.”

The Bellator featherweight champion said the company “wasn’t contractually obligated” to pay him after the contest was canceled, but he revealed that he was reimbursed for his camp and time lost.

On Friday, Pitbull puts his belt on the line for the first time since October 2022, when he beat Adam Borics via decision. In his following matches, he went to Japan to defeat then-RIZIN champion Kleber Koike in a non-title affair, and then he lost to Sergio Pettis for the Bellator flyweight belt and against Chihiro Suzuki in a short-notice lightweight contest for RIZIN.

Jeremy Kennedy, a veteran of the UFC and PFL, won four of five since joining Bellator in 2020 and challenges for gold after three straight victories in bouts against Emmanuel Sanchez, Aaron Pico and Pedro Carvalho.

“I don’t see Jeremy Kennedy as that dangerous guy that will hurt you,” Pitbull said. “He will dominate, he will stall. If you don’t have a good strategy to get away from it, it’s going to be time lost and work thrown away. We’ve worked hard on those takedowns and his type of game. He can keep pressure the entire time, but we’re ready to frustrate him since the first minute of the fight until the end so it backfires for him.”

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