Patricio Pitbull & Bellator MMA: Overlooked Again?

It’s another big fight weekend: featuring a new beginning for some great MMA talent.

But, maybe not for whom you’re thinking…

Sure, the UFC has what I’d call a solid free TV event tonight on Fox Sports 1. (I know, Cable TV isn’t free where I live either, but you get the idea.)

The main event pairs two world class middleweights in Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza and Gegard Mousasi, both ranked around the top ten in the world in the division– and hey, the undercard is actually probably deeper than its pay-per-view counterpart last weekend. Heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Ben Rothwell’s bout sounds like a good standup war, lightweights Joe Lauzon and Michael Chiesa would seem to promise a good grappling match.

Should be good. But no, that’s not the event I’m thinking of.

Of course, Invicta FC enjoys its re-launch tomorrow too, to be broadcast for the first time on UFC Fight Pass. It should be well worth a watch. I’m concerned that the main event with Michele Waterson and Yasuko Tamada may be a mismatch, but still — the event features plenty of good talent.

But, no, that’s not what I mean either.

I mean Bellator MMA, who kicks off season eleven tonight under new CEO Scott Coker — just a few miles from the UFC’s show, and live on Spike TV.

The headliner is a rematch between Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Pat Curran for Bellator’s featherweight belt.

Curran may be the defending champion. But, there’s just something about Pitbull, that fireplug of a fighter who was profiled in an excellent column by Connor Ruebusch at Bloody Elbow yesterday. Ruebusch gushed about Pitbull’s “compact kickboxing” style, comparing him to an MMA version of Mike Tyson in his “beautiful simplicity.”

Tonight, Pitbull looks to avenge one of only two defeats in his 23-fight strong MMA career  — both razor-close split decisions.

Compustrike numbers favored Curran slightly in their first bout. It was painfully close though — and many of us felt Pitbull’s strikes were the more meaningful. But still, he seemed a little tentative.

Sometimes, he’s like that.

Then, sometimes, I look at this fighter and think he may just be the lost great MMA fighter of the 2010’s, in the same way Allan Goes was the lost great MMA fighter of the 1990’s.

Goes is sadly overlooked by many fans today. He certainly had a bad night or two: including an ugly TKO loss to Alex Steibling, who would ultimately fail to make much of a name for himself in MMA. Goes fought some terrible match-ups, including an ill-advised heavyweight bout at PRIDE against Marc Coleman in 2000.

What’s forgotten is that Goes was a remarkably skilled jiu-jitsu artist who took the greatest champions of his day to the limit: draws against Frank Shamrock and Kazushi Sakuraba. Sakuraba would later admit he felt he lost the Goes bout, and Shamrock described the Brazilian as having “kicked the s— out of me” in the early going.

Patricio Pitbull is skilled and tough as nails. He’s only 27, but an MMA pro for ten years.  He’s ranked among the top ten featherweights in the world by any system worth its salt. But, I’ve got a feeling that he deserves more.

I’ve got a feeling we’re in for a coming-out party. And I think it’s a rabid Pitbull which steals the show tonight.