Jared Downing Replaces Rob Emerson, Faces Patricio “Pitbull” Freire at Bellator 97

Bellator MMA LogoA labrum injury has forced Rob “The Saint” Emerson off of the Bellator MMA July 31 fight card, where he was originally scheduled to face longtime Bellator veteran Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. That won’t stop “Pitbull” from stepping in the cage, as Jared Downing will now battle the explosive Brazilian striker live on Spike TV.

The night will also feature a Bellator Lightweight World Title fight as defending Bellator Champion Michael Chandler puts his title on the line against David “The Caveman” Rickels, while Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren will defend his title against Russian phenom Andrey Koreskov.

“This is a great opportunity for me, one I couldn’t pass up,” Downing said. “I’m happy to be back with Bellator and really start a new chapter. I thought Patricio won his last fight against Pat Curran, so I know I’m going to be getting one of the best featherweights in the world, and that’s why I signed with Bellator. I want to get this win, make my way into a tournament and become a Bellator World Champion.”

Only 24, Downing joins Bellator at 9-2, including a 2010 Bellator victory over Danny Tims.

“It takes a ton of heart to accept a fight less than 20 days out, especially when you have to step in the cage with one of the most dangerous men in the world in Pitbull,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “Jared is a guy we’ve had our eye on for a while and win or lose, he’ll make a great addition to our featherweight ranks.”

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