Will Pedro Carvalho mind games and self-belief be enough to dethrone champion Patricio Pitbull?

Pedro Carvalho (right) carries utter self-belief into Bellator featherweight title fight with champion Patricio Pitbull – Lucas Noonan/Bellator

Pedro Carvalho’s self-belief is off the charts but will it be enough to dethrone Bellator’s featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull, the two-weight world champion who appears to be at the peak of his powers ? Tonight, we will find out. With bells on it. 

Carvalho, born in Portugal but shaped in Ireland as a mixed martial artist, has had plenty to say about ‘Pitbull’ this week. “Patricio Pitbull likes to victimise himself. That’s what he likes to do. Every time he has an opponent, in my experience, he always says you talk a lot. You look the bad guy and he looks the humble hero who comes and puts the villain away. That’s simply it. He’s just a big baby that tries to victimise himself so he gets the credit.  Of what, I don’t know. But this time I know the cage will be locked and when it’s locked there are no villains or heroes, no nothing. There’s only me in front of him.”

Carvalho claimed his right to the featherweight crown. That it is his, that he will take it from the Brazilian. Carvalho is also projecting forward, to his domain, to his rule of the 145 division. “Patricio will go back to lightweight for sure. What Bellator will make after, I don’t know.

” Just imagine, 3Arena [Dublin], main event [is] me defending my belt for the semi-final grand prix, co-main even is Peter Queally for the lightweight belt. Who knows, maybe Sinead Kavanagh for the belt against Cris Cyborg. That would be the card of the year. Just saying.”

“I’m the best in the world, period. Right now I’m in the featherweight grand prix. I will become world champion at featherweight, finish this tournament as featherweight champion. After that we will see. I love to fight at lightweight, I can eat more. We’ll see. Featherweight or lightweight, both suit me well.”

They are strong and powerful words, the words of a man at peace with his own self-belief. But will he really get his hand raised, and take the trophy back to Ireland ?

The champion ? Here’s what Pitbull believes: “Pedro’s a really good fighter. He’s a kickboxer who changes stances. He trains a lot of wrestling, he’s a very formidable opponent in this tournament. But I’m ready for this fight, I’m ready to eliminate him and move on. I respect him as a fighter but I’m going for that million dollars.”

As for Carvalho saying that he plays the victim, Pitbull insisted he does not understand. Or maybe he is simply ignoring the mind games. “I have no idea what he’s talking about. We’re in the fight game, anybody can win or lose. Of course anytime I step in that cage I can lose but I’m the winniest fighter in Bellator history. I’m coming for that million dollars. And I see myself as a better fighter than he is.”

Whatever they are both saying, this remains an intriguing fight. Pitbull is a clear favourite and although shorter, carries the greater power, and that might just tell if Carvalho is over-eager is pressing the space and the pace.

But it’s game on in what appears to be arguably Bellator’s card of 2020.

Bellator 252 is live on Sky Sports on Thursday night from midnight.