Daniel Straus made one critical mistake and paid the steepest of penalties.
Patricio Freire submitted Straus with an arm-in guillotine choke to reclaim the Bellator MMA featherweight championship in the Bellator 178 headliner on Friday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. In his first appearance since November 2015, Straus (24-7, 11-4 Bellator) conceded defeat 37 seconds into Round 2.
Freire (26-4, 14-4 Bellator) leaned on leg and body kicks in the first round, held his own in the clinch and then made his move. Early in the second round, Straus left his neck exposed in a brief moment of weakness. “Pitbull” bit down on the choke, pulled guard and coaxed the tapout to take a 3-1 lead in his head-to-head series with the American Top Team standout.
The 29-year-old Freire has won nine of his past 11 bouts (bookmakers).
In the women’s flyweight co-main event, undefeated Team Hurricane Awesome rep Ilima Lei-Macfarlane submitted Jessica Middleton with a first-round armbar. Middleton (2-1, 2-1 Bellator) bowed out 2:15 into Round 1.
Macfarlane (6-0, 5-0 Bellator) struck for a takedown inside the first 90 seconds, dropped elbows from half guard and moved toward mount. A lightning-quick transition to the armbar followed, as Middleton tapped after a frantic struggle to free herself.
Meanwhile, Team Bodyshop prospect A.J. McKee knocked out promotional newcomer Dominic Mazzotta with a vicious head kick in the first round of their featherweight showcase. An unconscious Mazzotta (12-2, 0-1 Bellator) hit the deck 1:15 into Round 1.
McKee (8-0, 8-0 Bellator) absorbed a few kicks to the body while circling on the perimeter and probing for openings. He sent a partially blocked high kick crashing into Mazzotta’s skull, the concussive impact freezing the Pennsylvanian where he stood. A hammerfist from McKee mopped up what was left before referee Todd Anderson could arrive on the scene.
The defeat snapped Mazzotta’s nine-fight winning streak.
Elsewhere, former Gladiator Challenge champion Saad Awad was awarded a unanimous decision over American Top Team’s Ryan Quinn in a three-round catchweight battle at 165 pounds. Awad (20-9, 8-6 Bellator) swept the scorecards with 30-27 marks across the board.
Quinn (13-7-1, 7-1 Bellator) executed takedowns in all three rounds but failed to maintain advantageous positions and oftentimes wound up pinned beneath a larger, more experienced opponent. Awad achieved full mount in the second and third rounds, applied steady ground-and-pound and slowly strengthened his foothold in the match.
In other action, unbeaten Jackson-Wink MMA prospect Ed Ruth disposed of David Mundell with a knee to the body 3:13 into the second round of their clash at 170 pounds; three-time collegiate wrestling champion Tyrell Fortune took a unanimous decision from Branko Busick in a three-round heavyweight tilt, earning 29-27 marks from all three judges; Kastriot Xhema knocked out Nick Alley with punches 3:19 into the first round of their catchweight pairing at 165 pounds; Blair Tugman tapped Tom English with a rear-naked choke 4:54 into the third round of their featherweight confrontation; Jordan Young submitted Tim Caron with a brabo choke 3:55 into the first round of their catchweight affair at 195 pounds; and Chris Foster eked out a split decision -- 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 -- Shane Manley in a three-round featherweight encounter.