Patricio “Pitbull” Freire successfully defended his crown with a fourth-round submission. | Photo: Dave Mandel
Fighters who leave openings for Patricio Freire do so at their own peril.
Freire retained the Bellator MMA featherweight championship with a fourth-round rear-naked choke submission on Daniel Straus in the Bellator 132 headliner on Friday at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif. Straus (22-6, 9-3 Bellator) conceded defeat 4:49 into round four, his bid to dethrone the gifted Brazilian denied.
An aggressive standup attack from the American Top Team rep appeared to catch Freire by surprise. Straus controlled a substantial portion of the match with his hands, though a one-point penalty for repeated low blows slowed his momentum in the second round. Still, Freire seemed gunshy at times. Straus tagged him over and over again with straight left hands, his work paying dividends in the form of a gnarly cut on the champion’s right eyelid.
Late in the fourth round, however, “Pitbull” executed a takedown and settled in top position. Straus fished for a kimura without the security of his guard, leaving his back open for the taking. The mistake proved costly. Freire (23-2, 11-2 Bellator) countered the ill-advised submission attempt, flattened out the American from behind and cinched the choke for the finish.
Related » Bellator 132 Play-by-Play
Karakhanyan Guillotine Sleeps Jenkins
In the featherweight co-main event, former World Series of Fighting champion Georgi Karakhanyan choked Bubba Jenkins unconscious with a first-round guillotine. Jenkins (8-2, 5-2 Bellator) went to sleep 1:49 into round one, his four-fight winning streak brought to a close in dramatic fashion.
Karakhanyan (24-4-1, 3-2 Bellator) had a game plan, and he followed it to perfection. Jenkins left his neck exposed on a double-leg takedown and wandered right into the guillotine. Karakhanyan bit down on the maneuver, cut off escape routes and waited for the two-time NCAA All-American wrestler to go limp.
Afterward, the 29-year-old Karakhanyan was named Bellator’s No. 1 contender at 145 pounds. He has recorded 10 wins in his past 11 outings.
Zwicker Edges Alexander in Rematch
Team Quest’s Virgil Zwicker settled his score with Houston Alexander, as he eked out a split decision over the Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran in a featured light heavyweight bout. Two of the three judges sided with Zwicker (13-4-1, 2-1-1 Bellator) by matching 29-28 scores; a third saw it 30-27 for Alexander (16-11-1, 1-2-1 Bellator).
The two journeymen had fought to a majority draw in October after Alexander was penalized for an intentional head butt. Not much separated them in their rematch.
Alexander did his best work in the opening round, where he delivered a takedown inside the first minute, went to work with his ground-and-pound and later drew blood with a knee strike in the clinch. Zwicker got in gear in round two, as he drove into top position behind a sneaky uppercut and subsequent knee, controlling the 42-year-old on the ground and on the feet. In the third round, Zwicker gave a tiring Alexander pause with a three-punch combination, stuffed his attempted takedowns and staggered him with a volley of power punches in the closing seconds.
Surging Gonzalez Sinks Zaromskis
Close-quarters punching combinations paired with a relentless pace carried Fernando Gonzalez to a unanimous decision over former Dream champion Marius Zaromskis in a welterweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it 30-27 for Gonzalez (23-13, 3-0 Bellator).
Zaromskis (20-9, 4-3 Bellator) played defense for much of the 15-minute fight, often beaten to the punch by the younger, busier Californian. Gonzalez drew him into tight spaces, masking occasional leg, body and head kicks with a steady stream of rights and lefts.
Zaromksis executed a spinning backfist in the second round and scored with a takedown late in the third but never put himself in position to be successful.
Gonzalez, 31, has rattled off three straight wins.
Prelims: Salter Choke Submits Jacoby
In preliminary action, John Salter (11-3, 1-0 Bellator) submitted Dustin Jacoby (10-5, 0-2 Bellator) with a rear-naked choke 3:33 into round two of their middleweight match; Everett Cummings (9-0, 1-0 Bellator) rendered Jason Glaza (2-2, 0-1 Bellator) unconscious with a rear-naked choke 1:55 into the second round of their heavyweight duel; Steve Kozola (5-0, 1-0 Bellator) stopped Jonathan Rivera (4-1, 0-1 Bellator) on punches 85 seconds into round two of their lightweight encounter; Derek Anderson (12-1, 3-1 Bellator) put away Danny Navarro (12-5, 0-1 Bellator) with punches 3:51 into the third round of their battle at 155 pounds; Albert Morales (1-0, 1-0 Bellator) submitted Fabian Gonzalez (2-1, 0-1 Bellator) with a rear-naked choke 3:12 into round two of their bloody bantamweight scrap; and Chris Herrera (3-1, 1-0 Bellator) knocked out Luc Bondole (4-1-1, 0-1 Bellator) with a counter right hand and follow-up ground strikes 3:21 into the second round of their clash at 185 pounds.