Patricio “Pitbull” Freire successfully defended his Bellator MMA Featherweight Championship last night in a spirited, back-and-forth affair with Daniel Straus at Bellator 132 in Temecula, CA.
Noted for his wrestling credentials, Straus showed improved striking skills in the bout — often scoring first, and out-landing the Brazilian in the early rounds. But the champion would hang tough, even as action was repeatedly stopped due to headbutts and groin strikes.
It was a grueling bout, but the finish came suddenly. In a scramble late in the fourth round, Freire deftly maneuvered to Straus’ back to take a rear naked choke. Straus, of Cincinnati, tapped out at 4:49 of the fourth round.
The choke not only earned Pitbull his second title defense, it marked his eighth victory in his last nine bouts — a stretch dating back to 2011. The Team Noguiera representative now boasts a 23-2 total MMA record, while Straus, who trains out of American Top Team in Florida, drops to 22-6.
On the undercard, featherweight contender Georgi Karakhanyan also earned a submission victory in his bout, against another noted wrestler from American Top Team.
The Russian-born Karakhanyan, now fighting out of nearby Riverside, CA, struggled with the takedown ability of opponent Bubba Jenkins to begin, but kept attacking with his guillotine choke. Eventually Karakhanyan secured the hold, and Jenkins, a former NCAA All-American wrestler from Arizona State University, fell unconscious at 1:49 of the first round.
Jenkins dropped to 8-2 with the loss.
Karakhanyan was revealed to have secured the next title shot with the win, which improved his MMA record to 24-4-1. He and the-still champion Pitbull engaged in a staredown afterwards (pictured above).