Patricky Pitbull won the Bellator title in November 2021 | Bellator

Patricky Freire expected to defend the Bellator lightweight belt in the first quarter of 2022, but a series of setbacks forced him to change plans.

“Pitbull” won the 155-pound title with a second-round knockout over Peter Queally in Ireland this past November, avenging a doctor stoppage defeat from May, and said he was informed by Bellator to prepare to defend his belt in February. Unfortunately, a groin injury caused Bellator to push it back to March. Then, Freire’s bad luck continued.

“I started training again and injured my heel, but kept training and doing physical therapy to recover form both injuries,” Freire told MMA Fighting. “Some time later, I caught H3N2 [influenza] and felt really bad for a week. Two days after I recovered, I tested positive for COVID-19 and cancelled the fight because I stayed at home for three weeks without training.”

Pitbull wasn’t told who he will be facing in his first title defense, but figured it was between the top-ranked lightweights in Bellator, Sidney Outlaw and Brent Primus. Outlaw (16-4) is coming off wins over Myles Jury and Adam Piccolotti, while Primus (11-2), a former champion, won a decision over Benson Henderson in his most recent appearance.

With those plans currently on hold, Pitbull has dealt with more health issues: A cervical herniated disc, bursitis, and shoulder tendinitis.

“The jinx is real,” he said with a laugh. “A few days ago I had a nightmarish night, puking and everything else. I think it was an intestinal infection. I hope that’s it for now. My car also broke after that, but that’s OK.”

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