Bellator 286: Upstart Borics Looks to End Pitbull’s Dominant Title Reign

Patricio Freire and Adam Borics face off ahead of Bellator 286. Photo: Lucas Noonan/Bellator

Up-and-comer Adam Borics is looking to fulfill the promise he’s shown as one of the top prospects in the sport, but he’s up against one of MMA’s most dominant champions in Patricio “Pitbull” Freire who is quickly approaching a sweep of a second generation of contenders at Bellator 286.

It all came together beautifully last April for Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.  Having been stopped in dominant fashion a year prior by the sport’s most exciting and talented young prospect, Freire returned in an immediate rematch to outlast AJ McKee in a 25 minute fight and regain the Bellator featherweight championship that he held for several years.  The victory for Freire, at 34 year-old, was a seminal one and stands in high regard amongst his victories over the likes of Michael Chandler, Pedro Carvalho, Juan Archuleta, and Emmanuel Sanchez.

The fight showed that Freire remains not only amongst the elite in Bellator, but reasserted his place as arguably the best fighter to have never competed in the UFC.  But it also raised questions as to what could be next for the long-time champion.  His upcoming opponent is the latest behind McKee as part of the next generation of contenders, but he has already stood head and shoulders above the old guard during his title reign.  There are others coming, of course, in the form of Aaron Pico, Mads Burnell, Cody Law, and others.  But they are the ones with more to gain, and it remains to be seen if free agency (whether for Freire or a fighter outside of Bellator) will bring about the next big fight to add to Freire’s career.

Ádám “The Kid” Borics has long established himself as the third super prospect in Bellator’s featherweight division behind AJ McKee and Aaron Pico, but Saturday night will be his opportunity to establish himself as a top talent in the entire sport.  A professional since 2014, the contender from Hungary is unique from his aforementioned peers in that he began his career outside of the promotion and built up a 9-0 record before making his Bellator debut back in 2017.  Without skipping a beat, he racked up five more victories including a knockout of Pico and a victory over former champion Pat Curran.

In 2020, he hit his first setback against former champion Darrion Caldwell in the quarterfinals of the featherweight Grand Prix.   Rather than be derailed by the bout, Borics returned to form with a four fight win-streak over that includes names like Mads Burnell and Jeremy Kennedy.  Similar to McKee in his first fight with Freire, age is on the side of Borics as he has the opportunity to see if the time is ripe to catch the longtime veteran.  If there is a difference in his attempt compared to McKee’s, it is that the loss Freire experienced is expected to make the champion more focused as to not repeat history and thus create a bigger challenge for Borics.

Stylistically, the speed and shot-selection of Freire will need another special night as he once again gives up multiple physical advantages to a young challenger.  Picking his spots to get in-and-out, while targeting the calves and body should he struggle to find the mark early, is expected to be the champion’s strategy.  For Borics, using his range and forcing the fight to the mat where he can neutralize Freire’s offense on the feet will be key to cutting away at the Brazilian’s proven gas tank and getting onto the most efficient route to victory.

Top-contender Aaron Pico is expected to be the next challenge for the winner. should he triumph over Jeremy Kennedy on the undercard.  The bout would make for a multitude of scenarios considering Pico’s longtime pursuit of Freire goes back to when he was teammates with AJ McKee or a rematch with Borics after he was en route to a victory before suffering a knockout.  Considering McKee is also competing on the undercard, the possibility of making a trilogy with Freire at lightweight is also an option should the promotion and champion choose to go in another direction.