Patricio “Pitbull” survived his first career knockdown at Bellator 132. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
After beating Pat Curran and capturing the Bellator MMA featherweight belt in September, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire made his first title defense last Friday, as he choked out Daniel Straus in the main event of Bellator 132.
Freire and Straus previously met in 2011, when the Brazilian earned a unanimous decision in the final round of Bellator’s fourth-season featherweight tournament. After defeating Straus for a second time -- this time with considerably more difficulty -- Pitbull has nothing but respect for the American Top Team fighter.
“He was a very tough opponent who deserved the title shot and didn’t make his way by trash-talking, but with performances. He brought out the best of me,” Freire told Sherdog.com. “The first and second rounds were pretty even. The third round was his. He practically blinded me with a punch, and all I could do was try to recover. At the beginning of the fourth round, he knocked me down and then I decided to shorten the distance. He gave me a window to take him down, so I did, and I was able to lock up the finish.”
In the pair’s first fight, Freire arguably won all three rounds, which did not occur in the rematch. Freire said he was expecting a more well-rounded Straus, but what he did not expect was to be knocked down for the first time in his nearly 11-year career.
“I knew he would be tougher, more experienced, and that he wouldn’t commit the mistakes he did in 2011. Watching the fight again, I noticed he hurt his foot in the first round, his knee in the second round, and he still kept moving forward,” said Freire.
“When I was knocked down, I thought, ‘F---, I can’t believe this was my first knockdown.’ Once I realized it, I was already being hit and had my hands on the mat. But I kept very calm and everything turned out just fine once again.”
Next up for Freire will be his third consecutive rematch. The champion will put his belt on the line against Georgi Karakhanyan, whom Freire beat via third-round stoppage in the 2011 tournament quarterfinals. Like Straus, Freire expects Karakhanyan to be a much better opponent than the one he faced four years ago, particularly in the striking department.
“He’s very tough in jiu-jitsu. He has a sharp guillotine with which he caught Bubba Jenkins, who I thought would win. I thought [Bellator] was going to wait for [Daniel] Weichel and Curran to decide my next opponent, but now I only have to study [Karakhanyan] a little bit more.”
Vinicius Giglio contributed to this report.