Photo by - Patricio "Pitbull" Freire

CHICAGO, Ill. (January 13, 2010) Bellator Fighting Championships’ search for its next great featherweight has moved south to Brazil, where it was announced today that undefeated MMA phenom Patricio Pitbull has signed a long-term promotional agreement and will compete in Bellator’s Season 2 tournament.

The 23-year-old Pitbull is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is known throughout his home country for his devastating striking ability. He boasts a perfect 12-0 record with all but two of his fights finishing via KO, TKO or submission. Six of these 10 early finishes occurred in Round 1.

“In Bellator Season 1, Joe Soto came from nowhere to win our featherweight tournament and a six-figure check in just 90 days” said Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “I believe Patricio Pitbull has the chance to do the same thing in Season 2. While he may be undiscovered by most U.S. fans, I can tell you that he is the real deal.  I encourage you to go to YouTube and check him out for yourself.”

Pitbull is the third fighter to join Bellator’s upcoming eight-man 145 lbs. tournament along with 12-1-1 Russian-born Georgi “Insane” Karakhanyan and 5-0 Canadian fighting prodigy William Romero. Bellator will also conduct tournaments at 155, 170 and 185 lbs. with the winners of this year’s tournaments being declared No. 1 contenders to Bellator’s current roster of champions.

“I have been waiting for the opportunity to make my international debut for a long time,” Pitbull, who speaks Portuguese, said through a translator. “Bellator has some outstanding featherweight fighters – particularly Joe Soto – and I am excited to have my chance to show America and the world what I can do in the cage.”

Pitbull got his start in fighting sports at the age of 12 when he took up Jiu-Jitsu and, several years later, began training at Brazil’s famed Chute Boxe Academy, which has, over the years, produced such fighters as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Wanderlei Silva and reigning Strikeforce women’s featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos.

Pitbull took his first professional MMA fight in 2004 while he was still a teenager and has been dominant in nearly every fight since, according to his manager, Ivan Canello.

“This guy really is like a pitbull-very small, but very, very powerful,” Canello said. “From the bottom of my heart, I truly believe that he can win the Bellator tournament. He’s been waiting for his big chance for a long time and now he’s ready to go.”

Pitbull is also excited for the exposure offered by Bellator’s historic TV distribution alliance, which Canello called “something that no other organization in the U.S. can provide.”

Each of Bellator’s 24 fights during Seasons 2 and 3 will be distributed live in primetime on Thursday nights on FOX Sports Net and its regional sports network affiliates. The top moments from each week’s live events will then be condensed into an action-packed 30-minute highlight show, broadcast every Saturday night, late night, on NBC. A one-hour highlight show will air in Spanish on Telemundo every Saturday night from midnight to 1 a.m.

“Here in Brazil, it’s every fighter’s dream to come to the mecca for MMA – the United States,” Canello said. “I know that Pitbull is going to take full advantage of this opportunity.”

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