Jaleel Willis is not afraid to say he’s less experienced than his Bellator 249 counterpart Patricky “Pitbull” Freire.
At 28 years old, Willis is set to face a 34-year-old veteran with over 30 professional bouts at the Mohegun Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut this Thursday, Oct. 15. Dubbed “The Realest,” Willis is staying true to his nickname.
“I think round one will look like a young dude out there with a veteran,” Willis said during the Bellator 249 media day on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
“I might come out a little wobbly on some bambi legs. One thing that is great about me is how I adapt with each second of the fight. The longer I’m in there, the worse it is.”
Jaleel Willis knows what it’s like
This is not the first time Willis felt this way in the lead up to a fight. In fact, the Tennessee native shared a similar approach less than two months ago.
Despite predicting a slow start, Willis captured the vacant LFA welterweight title with a unanimous decision win against Vinicius de Jesus at LFA 88 this past August. De Jesus came into the bout with a 9-2 record, holding victories over former Bellator veteran Chris Lozano and current UFC welterweight Jeremiah Wells.
According to Willis, his four-fight win streak created interest from the UFC and Bellator. He opted to go with Bellator after being “blow away” by the promotion’s offer.
“Pitbull” will be his first test under the Bellator banner.
“I don’t fear no man but God,” Willis said. “I ain’t some bum coming in for a paycheck either, I’m here to fight.”
Willis may have less fights than Freire, but is a 15-fight veteran. Both of his losses came to Kyle Stewart and Harvey Park. Stewart is two-fight UFC veteran, but was cut by the promotion in 2019. Park also appeared on Dana White’s Contender Series in August 2019.
Freiere made the walk to the Bellator cage 21 times. He most recently crossed over to earn to Rizin, winning two bouts before dropping a unanimous decision loss to Tofiq Musayev at Rizin 20 this past December.
Although Freire is considered to be the more well known fighter, Willis is trying to steal the spotlight. The best way of building his own name is to beat the bigger name.
“That’s why I am happy to be this sport,” Willis said. “I was built on pressure, I was built on high-intense moments like this, that’s what made me and got me here.”