Pitbull vs. Sanchez

Bellator 209: “Pitbull vs. Sanchez” airs tomorrow night (Fri., Nov. 16, 2018) from Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Paramount Network via tape delay. The main event will see a multi-time Featherweight champion put his title and respect on the line against a fast rising divisional star.

Let’s break it down:

145 lbs.: Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (27-4) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez (17-3)

Heavy is the burden for the man who wears the crown, and Patricio Freire has worn it twice now, so the “Pitbull” is used to other dogs nipping at his heels. Having successfully defended his titlein a rematch in Italy earlier this year, Freire finally gets his wish of a new opponent instead of a rematch in Emmanuel Sanchez. Has the dog of the division perhaps bitten off more than he can chew?

“El Matador” should not be taken lightly. He’s won four in a row and seven of his last eight dating back to 2015, with his only loss in that time coming via split decision against the same man Freire just beat — Daniel Weichel. The 28 year old stands 5’9” with a 76” reach, which puts him a literal head and shoulders above Freire at 5’5” with a 65” reach. Those seem like mighty tall odds, pun intended.

Fortunately for Freire he has a long history of ignoring the odds and beating bigger divisional opponents. Being compact may make for a disadvantage in the reach, but it makes for an advantage in his muscular physique and his speed in the cage, allowing him to negate a reach advantage in most cases and land powerful blows, knocking out nine of his foes. He’s also submitted 11 opponents which makes him just as dangerous on the ground. Sanchez knows a thing or two about submissions as well, garnering the majority of his finishes that way (seven) versus just one knockout.

Freire has only lost two times since 2013 though with one being a fluke injury. As noted size and reach mean little to “Pitbull” and he’s more than willing to take it on the chin if he can land a harder one in return. Since Sanchez isn’t known for his knockout power, the reach advantage is not nearly as much of a disadvantage as it looks like on paper. The best chance Sanchez has for success is to take Freire down repeatedly, but it’s risky business to let a Brazilian work jiu-jitsu off his back. I expect this to be a hard fought war regardless of the winner but there’s little doubt in my mind as to who it will be.

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