Bellator 301 could be the final card in company history Friday in Chicago as promotion leaders negotiate a potential sale to PFL, and grand prix semifinalist Patricky Pitbull wonders if he will get a chance to compete for a million-dollar check next if he gets past Alexander Shabliy.
The former Bellator lightweight champion advanced to the penultimate bout in the grand prix with a victory over late-notice replacement Roberto Satoshi in July, and should earn a shot at the title with a victory. It’s still unclear what will happen next, though, after 155-pound titleholder Usman Nurmagomedov failed a drug test after his semifinal win over Brent Primus — and if Bellator will still be around in 2024.
“I’m not sure as well [if the tournament will conclude], I don’t know much,” Pitbull said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast. “When you buy a promotion and there’s one million on the line, from what I understand, each [finalist] can file a lawsuit if that fight doesn’t happen, so it would be $2 million instead of one [laughs]. It has to happen. I think it’s easier to make that fight instead of losing $2 million.”
Pitbull is under contract with Bellator since its 36th card in 2011, a year after his brother Patricio Pitbull joined the company, and admits he’s a bit averse to changes. The lightweight talent re-signed with the organization recently, and said he feels “in a good spot” ahead of a potential move to another promotion, PFL or else.
“My numbers and my history in the organization make me comfortable about a change,” he said. “Sure, we never know what’s coming on the other side, but I think I’ll be alright. … I’ve just renewed my contract in the middle of the GP but I don’t know what will happen after the GP. To me, it all depends on the GP.”
Pitbull said he plans on taking a sabbatical after the tournament concludes, and envisions more challenges down the line. The fighter, who turns 38 in January, explained that although he loves grappling and jiu-jitsu, there are other combat sports that entice him more.
“I would really love to test myself in boxing,” said Pitbull, who scored 13 knockouts in Bellator and RIZIN. “It’s different, it’s something that would get my adrenaline high. Striking keeps me alive. Karate Combat, boxing, anything [laughs].”
The Brazilian striker remains focused on his next task, though, which is stopping Shabliy’s incredible rise under the Bellator banner. The American Top Team lightweight won four straight since joining the organization, finishing Tofiq Musayev and Brent Primus in his most recent appearances.
“The way Shabliy fights is very similar to mine,” Pitbull said. “He focuses on his hands, moves well and throws good kicks and good left knees. He’s quite complete. He has as many knockouts as I have in MMA and that shows he loves to stand and bang instead of wrestling and scoring points, but we have to be prepared for everything. He’s very smart and strategic, and I’m ready for everything.”
“His submissions are no big deal,” he added, unimpressed by Shabliy’s 30-percent submission rate in MMA. “He makes the most of every opportunity. He makes people miss and remains very, very calm. He was very patient in controlling Adriano Martins. But his submissions are no big deal. He has some leg locks, but I’ve fought worse. Marcin Held couldn’t submit me. But I have to be very patient. Sometimes I just want to end the fight so much I rush things.”