Patricio Freire has two losses in his career – both by split decision, and both in Bellator fights with title implications, one for the belt itself.
Split decisions, by nature, are more often than not going to be controversial with each fighter typically believing he did enough to get the nod. In "Pitbull" Freire's case, he believes in his two losses, he not only did enough, but that being Brazilian didn't work in his favor.
"Both losses were against world champions, and both by split decision," Freire told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "I believe if the judges were Brazilian, I would have been awarded the win in both occasions. Nowadays, MMA rules and judging favor the American style of fighting. My last fight was very balanced. Either one of us could have won it. I am going back to try again."
And so Freire (17-2 MMA, 5-2 BMMA) will try again later this fall when he meets Diego Nunes (18-4 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) in the opening round of Bellator's latest featherweight tournament. He lost to Joe Warren in the Season 2 tournament final, and Warren went on to become the champ. He then won the Season 4 tournament to get a shot at new champ Pat Curran in January, only to come out on the short end again.
"If you watch the end of the fight, before the judges' decision, Curran was hanging his head low," Freire said. "He even looked a bit surprised when he heard his own name."
Freire isn't necessarily saying there was home cooking in the Warren and Curran fights. Instead, he believes it's just a simple matter of judges being raised to look for different things.
And he might be a textbook case of the old MMA adage "Don't leave it in the hands of the judges."
"The sport originated in Brazil, but was popularized in the United States," he said. "I do think the rules favor American fighters. It's automatically assumed that if you get the takedown, if you're on top, you're winning. But sometimes, the fighter on the bottom is the one threatening his opponent, by trying armlocks, triangles, Americanas, guillotines, or something like that. The fighter on the bottom can come very close to finishing the fight, but judges will award points to the fighter on top. The person who is actually engaging in combat should be winning the round.
"The scoring system is very wrong. That's why when a jiu-jitsu fighter constantly threatens from the bottom, and his opponent simply stays on top, escaping submissions, it results in a guaranteed loss. That has to change."