Patricio Pitbull (33-5, 23 finishes), now a three-time featherweight champion, is set for the first title defense of his latest reign when he faces Adam Borics (18-1, 10 finishes) in Saturday’s headliner of Bellator 286 (10 p.m. ET, Showtime) from Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, Calif. The Brazilian champion Pitbull recently spoke, through an interpreter, with The Post’s Scott Fontana for the latest Q&A session in the Post Fight Interview.
Q: You’ve spoken before about becoming the first three-division champion in a major MMA promotion. Would you be interested in going down to bantamweight once that grand prix ends and challenging for the title?
A: I think I’m gonna defend the belt now, and if God allows it, I will defend it one more time. And after that, I will challenge whoever is the bantamweight champion at the time, and I’m going to be a double champion again.
Q: You’ve got Adam Borics ahead of you in your next title defense. What makes him a dangerous opponent for you?
A: He’s a good kickboxer, and he now has good takedown defense. The weakness that he showed was in that fight [against Darrion Caldwell in 2020], when he was taken out and submitted early. And we’ve seen he’s improved in those areas. But me and my team, we truly analyze his game, and there are some things that we think we can explore to get the victory this time.
Q: You’re now the three-time featherweight champion. Is it any more satisfying to have regained the belt this time given how far into your career you are? Do you maybe appreciate it more?
A: Both times that I got the belt back were as satisfactory as each other because the first time I got the belt back in front of my son, it was the first time he saw me fight. And this time, I had both of my sons there with me to see me win it, and it was over the guys [Daniel Straus and A.J. McKee] that had taken that from me. They both have special meaning for me in each of their ways. As far as this [most recent] fight goes, the only this bitter taste that I have in my mouth is because I wanted to finish A.J., and I didn’t get to do that. But aside from that, it was great to get the belt back, to show that I’m still here as the champion again.
Q: Jose Aldo, who was the UFC champion of your division for a long time, just retired. Is there any regret that you didn’t have the chance to test yourself against him in a fight?
A: It was kind of unavoidable to have comparisons between us because at the same time he was reigning [in the] UFC, I was reigning here in Bellator. And yes, it’s a fight that I think everyone wanted to see. Unfortunately, it never got to happen. Now, he’s retired. It doesn’t seem like it was his decision. Looks like someone else made that decision for him. There seems to be a spark for him to retire, but he was still talking about competing and going for another title. So, I don’t know. Perhaps we will see him back in a cage again someday. And perhaps, when he does that, our paths may cross, and then we can settle who was the best in the division. But that’s nothing really that I can control, so I’m not really worried about it. I wish him well in his retirement.
Q: Do you recall your first experience watching MMA?
A: My first time watching vale tudo was Royce [Gracie] in the UFC.
Q: Typical walkaround weight between fights?
A: Between 170 and 175 pounds.
Q: Typical weight on fight night for a featherweight bout?
A: Between 160 pounds, 162 pounds.
Q: Favorite post-weight cut meal?
A: Back when I started here in Bellator [in 2010], we didn’t have much knowledge about weight recovery, so we could actually eat what we wanted, like hamburgers [with ketchup], pizza and all that, milkshakes. But now, we know better. So until before the fight, my food is pretty clean. I eat rice with sweet potatoes, chicken breasts or fish. It’s pretty clean up until the fight is over.
Q: Who in MMA do you most admire?
A: My brother [Bellator lightweight champion Patricky Pitbull]. If you look at his career trajectory, he’s a guy who had some major setbacks, and he always got back on track and started winning again. Had some important fights. He only had the chance to fight for the title once, and was [on] short notice. So despite his results, he never had the opportunity to fight for the title with a full camp. And then, after his first setback in a title fight [against Michael Chandler in 2016], he spent [three] years without losing. And that culminated in the fight in Japan against Tofiq Musayev [in the Rizin Lightweight Grand Prix Final], which he fought with a broken hand. The event didn’t allow us to remove his glove to check on his hands, and he had just fought prior because it was two fights on the same night. And he went into that fight with a broken hand. He fell from the ring and injured his shoulder and his leg. It was midway during the fight, and he still kept going, and it was a war for three rounds. He barely lost it, but still, he lost it. And everyone would be angry about that. And then he fought in the U.S. against [Peter] Queally. He was winning the fight, and it was stopped because of a cut.
And now after [three] years without any losses, he had two losses in a row, when people start questioning his age and if he was old. And he himself was questioning if it was time for him to end his career. He got a chance again — first time with a full camp for a title fight — at his opponent’s house [against Ireland’s Queally in Dublin]. He went in there, and he won it. Now, he’s rejuvenated, and he’s talking about firing for five more years. You see in the careers of fighters, not many fighters are able to overcome one setback, let alone as many as he had. And now he’s the champion; I believe the oldest champion in Bellator history. So he’s made history already with that. It’s the most inspiring story that I can see in MMA, and the one that I admire the most: That’s my brother.