On Friday, Jan. 16, Bellator MMA hosted its 132nd event — its first of 2015 — when it returned to the Pechanga Casino Resort in Temecula, Calif.
The event was headlined by a featherweight title clash between Brazilian Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and former titleholder Daniel Straus. The pair met previously at Bellator 45 in 2011, with Freire earning a decision win. The 27-year-old Freire captured gold in September with a five-round unanimous decision win over Pat Curran. The victory extended his winning streak to five. Straus, meanwhile, looked to recapture the 145-pound strap that he lost to the aforementioned Curran at Bellator 112 in May 2014. The loss snapped a six-fight winning streak, but Straus got back in the win column in October with a 50-second destruction of Justin Wilcox.
The co-main event of the evening featured the Bellator return of Georgi Karakhanyan, as he took on wrestling stalwart Bubba Jenkins. Karakhanyan last competed for the promotion in 2011, falling victim to a third-round TKO at the hands of champion Freire. Since that bout, he won nine of this last 10 fights. The 26-year-old Jenkins faced the biggest test of his nine-fight career.
The event kicked off Friday with a preliminary card stream on Spike.com at 7 p.m. ET. The four-fight main card followed at 9 p.m ET on Spike.
Daniel Straus was in control in the first round, while Patricio “Pitbull” Freire wasn’t able to really get settled with his striking. When Freire tried to press, Straus would catch him with his speed and really throw Freire off his game. Over the course of the first two rounds, the fight was stopped three times for shots to the groin and eye pokes. Eventually, in the second round, Straus was deducted a point for the eye pokes. After the point deduction, Freire opened up with more of his striking to keep Straus at bay and counter his grappling. Freire relaxed in the third round, allowing Straus to retake control of the striking. Straus landed a few good combinations and a lot of unanswered shots that didn’t hurt Freire but racked up points for Straus. Straus ended the third frame with a takedown against the cage that was apathetically defended by Freire.
Straus continued to unleash his striking on Freire in the fourth round and hurt Pitbull early in the frame. Freire was able to reverse Straus against the cage and then unload some body shots, but Straus was able to circle out. Pitbull dropped Straus with a shot to the groin and followed up with some strikes, but Pitbull had landed a low blow and referee John McCarthy stepped in to stop Freire from continuing. The fight resumed and Freire was able to take Straus down. Straus defended with a kimura, but eventually Freire was able to swing around his leg and grab back mount. From there, Freire flattened Straus on the mat and sunk in the rear-naked choke for a victory in his first title defense.
Georgi Karakhanyan made quick work of Bubba Jenkins in the co-main event. Jenkins attempted two takedowns in the fight and both times Karakhanyan locked in a guillotine choke. Jenkins was lucky to survive the first one, but Karakhanyan really sunk in the second one. After a quick scramble, Jenkins was put to sleep. However, referee Herb Dean was slow to step in and Karakhanyan’s submission victory was stopped very, very late. After the fight, it was announced that Karakhanyan would get the next title shot at 145 pounds.
Houston Alexander landed an early takedown in the first round that kept Virgil Zwicker on his back for a good portion of the stanza. Zwicker attempted a reversal, but instead it opened up an opportunity to get back on his feet. On the feet, both fighters didn’t do much. Zwicker unloaded a few good shots at the end of the first, but nothing major. Zwicker landed a knockdown in the second round and quickly unleashed some ground-and-pound. Alexander was able to take the beating and stand back up, eventually catching Zwicker off-balance and land on top in Zwicker’s guard with just over a minute in the round. The third round saw Zwicker catch Alexander with a right hand that momentarily stunned him. The final 10 seconds of the round brought the biggest action, as Zwicker again caught Alexander with a shot against the cage. The two began trading punches before they fell to the mat. The split decision went in favor of Zwicker.
Marius Zaromskis opened the main card by instantly blitzing Fernando Gonzalez. Both fighters continued the high-paced action throughout the round with a number of heavy shots. Gonzalez landed the more effective punches in the round, but Zaromskis landed more overall. Zaromskis seemed to fade toward the end of the frame before landing a takedown to close out the round. The second stanza went the same way as the first, with both fighters trying to keep the pace running high. Zaromskis certainly landed the more flashy shots, but Gonzalez continued to press and hurt Zaromskis. The final frame saw Gonzalez land a takedown after catching a kick from Zaromskis. The two were back to the feet after a quick scramble. Gonzalez continued to land the more effective shots, but Zaromskis landed a low single-leg takedown at the end of the third round. At the end of the back-and-forth fight, Gonzalez took the nod by unanimous decision.