Patricio Freire and Daniel Straus will lock horns for a second time, this time with gold on the line. | Photo: Keith Mills
Patricio Freire, like all other champions before him, must now work even harder to keep the hardware for which he spent years striving.
Freire will defend the Bellator MMA featherweight title in a five-round clash with former champion Daniel Straus in the Bellator 132 main event on Friday at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif. The show kicks of the Scott Coker-led organization’s streamlined 2015 schedule, as it moves away from the tournament-based competition that helped to define it.
Once housed under the Team Nogueira banner, Freire will enter the cage on a five-fight winning streak. The 27-year-old Brazilian last appeared at Bellator 123 in September, when he dethroned Pat Curran in a five-round unanimous decision to become Bellator’s fifth featherweight champion. A dynamic offensive fighter who backs up his potent standup skills with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Freire has secured 16 of his 22 career wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission. Wins over Straus, Diego Nunes, Wilson Reis (twice), Gleristone Santos and Justin Wilcox anchor his resume.
Straus, meanwhile, has won 19 of his past 21 bouts. The 30-year-old American Top Team export last fought at Bellator 127 in October, when he needed just 50 seconds to dispatch the aforementioned Wilcox with punches. Known for a grinding style that is heavily reliant on clinches, takedowns and pace, Straus has compiled a 9-2 mark inside Bellator, losing only to Curran and Freire.
With the Freire-Straus title clash as the primary lure, here are 10 facts surrounding Bellator 132:
FACT 1: Millennia MMA’s Georgi Karakhanyan is one of 11 fighters who have won a World Series of Fighting championship. Smealinho Rama, David Branch, Steve Carl, Rousimar Palhares, Justin Gaethje, Rick Glenn, Lance Palmer, Marlon Moraes, Jessica Aguilar and Ryan Ford are the others.
FACT 2: Bubba Jenkins earned All-America honors as a collegiate wrestler at two NCAA Division I institutions, Penn State University (2008) and Arizona State University (2011).
FACT 3: Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Houston Alexander has put away five different opponents in 61 seconds or less: Dennis Reed, Alessio Sakara, Keith Jardine, Jon Murphy and Justin Butler.
FACT 4: Team Quest’s Virgil Zwicker is 4-4-1 since starting his career 8-0 -- a run of sustained success that included a second-round technical knockout against Ovince St. Preux.
FACT 5: Former Dream champion Marius Zaromskis in 2010 became the third man to defeat Japanese legend Kazushi Sakuraba on New Year’s Eve, joining Kiyoshi Tamura and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
FACT 6: John Salter has never gone the distance in 13 professional appearances.
FACT 7: Undefeated light heavyweight Everett Cummings has won all eight of his pro bouts, finishing seven of them, but the eight fighters he has defeated own a cumulative 7-19 record.
FACT 8: Judo black belt Fabricio de Assis Costa da Silva sports 13 submissions among his 20 victories: four by kimura, four by armbar, two by triangle choke and one each by arm-triangle choke, rear-naked choke and keylock.
FACT 9: Bellator Season 10 lightweight tournament semifinalist Derek Anderson holds a 9-0 record in the state of California.
FACT 10: Fernando Gonzalez has competed in 11 different organizations during his 35-fight career: Bellator, West Coast Fighting Championship, Gladiator Challenge, Red Canvas Fight Promotions, Strikeforce, Respect in the Cage, King of the Cage, MMA Xtreme, World Extreme Cagefighting, X-1 World Events and Pit Fighting Championship.