Photo courtesy of Facebook/ BellatorMMA

Bellator: Pedro Carvalho — “I always believed in myself and that my time would come; I will knock Pitbull out”

One of the biggest positives about the Grand Prix format of competition mostly utilized by Bellator in mixed martial arts today is that opportunities to compete for championship gold arise for some of the most promising young contenders. 

At 24, SBG Ireland’s Pedro Carvalho (11-3) is determined to grasp his title shot with both hands come March of next year when he is set to lock fists with the reigning Bellator Featherweight king, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.

The crack at the gold comes perhaps a little unexpectedly for the Guimaraes native, as having the whole bracket to choose from during the quarter-final draw in Inglewood, Calif. back in September, Pitbull elected to face Portuguese foe Carvalho over the other seven contenders. Many people felt that Pitbull was going for the “easiest” matchup available and that he was underestimating SBG’s rising star.

But Carvalho didn’t care about any of the narratives. The Portuguese fighter has been on an impressive 6-0 run since joining John Kavanagh’s team in January of 2017, and despite being quite young in MMA terms, Carvalho feels like his matchup with Pitbull was inevitable, and that he is ready to “shock the world.”

“I always believed in myself and that my time would come, and I’m happy that it has come sooner rather than later” Carvalho said when speaking to MMA Latest ahead of his upcoming championship showdown against Pitbull. “I just needed to keep up the hard work that I was putting in. And that’s why it was a big goal for me to get into the GrandPrix, because then I would have a guarantee that I would get to put my hands on the belt.”

Carvalho certainly doesn’t lack confidence, similarly to the rest of his SBG teammates, and he has been demonstrating his composure and a sense of belonging on this stage from the first face off with Pitbull following the Brazilian’s successful title defense against Juan Archuleta in Inglewood.

Carvalho refused to chase after the possible reasons as to why Pitbull chose him over anyone else and instead opted to focus on himself — and proving why picking him and underestimating his skillset could turn out to be a poor choice for his opponent.

“In March, people will really see in this fight why I keep saying that I’m the best in the world,” Carvalho said. “Same as other times, it’s just one body to beat. I’ve said it before, I see no names. It doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the cage, my hand will always end up being raised.”

Carvalho joined Bellator in May of 2018, labeled as one of the guys that trains with Conor McGregor. But he made sure that this tag was quickly removed from his name by making gradual waves in the Featherweight division, before really putting himself on the radar with a TKO victory over fellow Grand Prix contestant Derek Campos (set to fight A.J. McKee in December) earlier this year. That was arguably the biggest victory of Carvalho’s career and it flung him straight into contention for the upcoming tournament.

Then the tournament came, and Carvalho landed himself a matchup against Sam Sicilia at Bellator 226 in San Jose, Calif. Carvalho came into that fight with a little bit of pressure on his shoulders, as this time, he was expected to dictate the proceedings and put on a show in the opening round of the Grand Prix. And he delivered.

Photo courtesy of Facebook/ BellatorMMA

The 24-year-old handled his nerves and secured his third consecutive stoppage victory after submitting the more experienced Sicilia with a face crank in the second round. It was huge for Carvalho to get that first win out of the way. And by getting the victory, he then had the luxury of going to Inglewood later that month to watch on as the rest of the first round fixtures unfolded.

After picking Carvalho in the draw, Pitbull denied the accusations which claimed that he did it because he wanted the most favorable matchup. The Brazilian repeatedly stated that he has been impressed with his new opponent and that he has always wanted to fight someone from SBG.

Carvalho couldn’t help but grin at times during the press conference, perhaps with the fact that he is about to get a shot at the title slowly settling in, but he didn’t let the moment or his emotions get the better of him. His demeanor depicted a man that is on a mission, focused on one goal only — and that is having the belt wrapped around his waist in six months time.

That night in Inglewood, Pitbull proved why he’s the one reigning over the division from the throne. He put on a masterclass in a dominant victory over Archuleta, and it would come as little surprise if the Brazilian felt almost invincible in a way at the moment. But Carvalho proposes a different challenge.

A man that is less known to the masses but with a huge chip on his shoulder and a point to prove after being singled out by the champion. Carvalho likes to mix it up, and he will need to bring his “A” game in order to dethrone the Featherweight kingpin. But he feels like he has what it takes to cause a major upset.

How many fights unfold often comes down to the mental aspect of the game, and in his head, Carvalho firmly believes that he has the answers to solve the problem that has been the dominance of Pitbull — as well as having some questions of his own. In his head, Carvalho envisions himself walking out of the cage with the belt on his shoulder in just over three months.

“I will knock Pitbull out,” Carvalho said. “I always say this to my opponents, they have never felt pressure like the pressure that I put on everybody, and he knows that. He knows what I bring to the table.

“This one will be special. More special than usual because I’ll be able to raise my hand and shock the world at the same time.”

 

 

 

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Sports journalist based in CA, USA. Twitter: @ArionArmeniakos

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