As the trainer of former UFC two-division champion Henry Cejudo, Eric Albarracin has long been outspoken about his hope to guide his recently retired star to become the promotion's first three-division champion. Lucky for Albarracin, another of his pupils seems just as willing.
Albarracin, who stopped by the "Morning Kombat" desk on Tuesday following the Bellator MMA news conference announcing an exclusive move to Showtime, served as the translator for two-division champion Patricio "Pitbull" Freire and wasn't shy about sharing their next goal.
"This is why I can say [Freire] the one to be the next 'Triple C,'" Albarracin said in reference to Cejudo. "You know I am all into getting three titles -- 135, 145 and 155."
As the reigning featherweight king, Freire (31-4) added the Bellator lightweight title to his collection by finishing former three-time champion Michael Chandler in just 61 seconds in 2019. He followed it up with two victories within the Bellator MMA Featherweight World Grand Prix and is set to face Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4) on April 2 in a semifinal rematch to decide who will face AJ McKee (17-0) in the tournament final.
It's what might happen to Freire after the 145-pound tournament, however, that is most interesting.
Freire admitted his weight cut down to featherweight is already a difficult one. But he believes he can go even further down to 135 for a shot at the title, especially considering Juan Archuleta -- whom Freire defeated in 2019 to open the Grand Prix -- recently captured Bellator's vacant bantamweight title.
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Like the UFC, Bellator has never had a fighter win titles in three weight classes. Freire, in fact, joined Joe Warren and Ryan Bader as just the third fighter to become champion in two weight classes while becoming just the second to do so simultaneously.
"I [walk around] at 165 pounds so, yeah, I think so. I think so," Freire said about making the bantamweight limit. "I already beat Archuleta. I know he is good and is already the champion. I know he wants to do that fight, it doesn't matter the division. Maybe we could do that.
"It's a hard cut already but I believe in myself. It's all about the mindset."
A native of Brazil, few have a mindset as violent and hellbent upon destruction as Freire, the younger brother of Bellator lightweight Patricky "Pitbull" Freire.
"My brother and I, always we want to kill someone in the ring," Freire said. "So if they are to face us, they know we are violent but they still come forward. So let's kill."
Freire used his 2019 victory over Chandler as direct revenge for his brother Patricky, who holds two defeats against Chandler, including a first-round knockout loss in 2016 that left the elder "Pitbull" unconscious after one right hand.
Although Freire watched Chandler's recent UFC debut, when he knocked out Dan Hooker in the first round of their January bout, that doesn't mean the bad blood between them has died down.
"Michael Chandler is a f---ing bitch," Freire said. "I want his head on my mantle in my Hall of Fame. I [want] his head in my house."
One thing Freire did credit Chandler's win with is showing the world that "Bellator is the A-league." Freire believes he could beat top UFC lightweight Dustin Poirier ("he has a lot of good wins but I don't like his style") just as easily as he did Chandler.
"Emmanuel Sanchez and AJ McKee are side by side with Max Holloway. Everybody is the same level," Freire said. "I know that. It's not about the organization, it's about the fighter. So let's put everyone to fight so we are going to know who is the best. It's the next step for the sport. MMA deserves that and all the organizations and athletes deserve that. Everybody wins, it's a win-win situation."
After the retirements of Georges St-Pierre and Khabib Nurmagomedov, whom he openly has reverence for, Freire believes he now sits alone as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game. But if you're wondering how long Freire plans to keep Bellator's 155-pound title considering his hopes of maybe cutting down to bantamweight, Freire is hoping he can keep it in the family.
With his brother Patricky unbeaten in Bellator since the Chandler loss and 6-1 overall in the past five years, Freire said he's willing to lay down his lightweight title as vacant in order to allow for his brother to fight for it.
"I believe he deserves that because he has six straight victories in Bellator," Freire said. "I think he is the next fighter. I have been waiting for that. That victory against Chandler was for him."
Cejudo may be close enough to be considered family for Freire considering their time training together, but the brotherly love shown by "Pitbull" to his own flesh stops at his own bloodline. When asked who would win in a mythical fight between himself and Cejudo, Freire's joking tone took a serious turn.
"He is my friend but he knows who is the best," Freire said.