Patricky Freire and Roberto de Souza were both born and raised in Brazil. Both men are currently lightweight champions with their respective MMA promotions but their careers have taken very different paths.
Freire is still based in Brazil but has been competing for Bellator for over a decade. De Souza did not start competing in MMA until after he had moved to Japan a a decade ago.
But the two Brazilians appear to be on a collision course. De Souza holds the Rizin lightweight title, Freire owns the Bellator strap and they are keen to fight one another.
Freire took to Twitter to announce that it would be an ‘honor’ to fight de Souza. Speaking in his native tongue de Souza responded, declaring his respect for the Freire family:
Uma honra mestrao todo respeito pelo família pitbull e pelo senhor também 🙏🏼💪🏼
— roberto satoshi de s (@ToshiJJ) April 17, 2022
While both men hail from Brazil they would be representing the promotions in which they became champions. There is a friendly rivalry between Rizin and Bellator which has seen bantamweight title holders Kyoji Horiguchi and Darrion Caldwell go head to head in the past.
De Souza recently avenged the only loss of his entire career. He submitted Johnny Case in the opening round at Rizin 35 last weekend, putting on a fantastic display of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the process.
Freire also holds a black belt in BJJ although you wouldn’t know it to look at his MMA record. The Bellator lightweight champion wins most of his fights by TKO or KO.
・第10試合 / ライト級タイトルマッチ
1R 3分32秒 SUB（タップアウト：アームバー）
— RIZIN FF OFFICIAL (@rizin_PR) April 17, 2022
In 2019 Freire reached the final of the Rizin lightweight Grand Prix. He was beaten by Tofiq Musaev who would eventually go on to sign for Bellator.
Musaev was frustrated by the lack of opportunity at Rizin. At the time Covid-19 restrictions prevented international fighters from flying in and he decided to ply his trade in the US instead.
Those restrictions have now been listed and fighters like Case and Spike Carlyle were able to fly in from the US in order to compete last weekend. That opens the doors for more collaborations between Rizin and Bellator.
Horiguchi has also signed an exclusive contract with Bellator and is now based in the US. But fighters like him, Musaev and Freire could all find themselves back in Japan again before too long.