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Patricio Freire on rematch: Emmanuel Sanchez improved, but ‘I’m better than him – he knows that’

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Patricio Freire thinks his next opponent has improved, but not enough to make him worry.

The Bellator featherweight and lightweight champion successfully defended his 145-pound title Thursday in the Bellator 252 main event. Freire (31-4 MMA, 19-4 BMMA) knocked out Pedro Carvalho in the first round of their fight to advance to the Bellator featherweight grand pix semifinals.

Earlier at the event, Emmanuel Sanchez punched his ticket to the semifinal bout against Freire when he beat Daniel Weichel with a unanimous decision. “Pitbull” said he saw improvement in Sanchez’s game since they first fought, but not enough to change the outcome in the rematch.

“He looks more comfortable fighting,” Freire said at the post-fight news conference. “Sanchez was looking good. He’s very dynamic. I like his style. And like I said in the cage, I’m better than him – he knows that.”

Freire earned a decision over Sanchez at Bellator 209 in 2018. The Brazilian champion expects to get the job done before the final bell rings next time they share the cage.

“In the first fight, I had a lot of problems. But this time, it’s going to be different,” Freire said. “I’m going to finish him.”

The other semifinal bout on the opposite side of the bracket takes place Thursday at Bellator 253 when A.J. McKee takes on former bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell. Freire expects Caldwell to move on to the final.

“(They’re) two monsters, but I believe Caldwell is going to win,” Freire said. “He’s going to smash A.J. McKee. But if McKee wins the fight, I’m happy, too. no problem.”

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