The main event for the fourteenth Bellator MMA card of 2015 -- dubbed "With a Vengeance" and also known as Bellator 145 -- featured featherweight champion 'Pitbull' Patricio Freire attempt to defend his title against Daniel Straus on Friday night (Nov. 6, 2015) inside the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri, and streamed live on Spike TV.
The evening saw the third meeting between Freire and Straus, who also kicked off Bellator MMA's 2015 season. Although Straus was at times winning that bout with strikes, Freire ultimately prevailed with a fourth round rear naked choke.
So, third time's a charm?
Straus hurt Freire badly enough in the second round that he nearly finished the fight via ground and pound, but Freire was able to weather the storm. For the next two rounds Freire took a beating standing, as Straus decked him over and over again with the left hand, until in the fifth round he was visibly wincing every time he threw a strike with it.
Freire got the takedown he was looking for late but wasn't able to pull out one more miracle. Straus waited patiently to get back to his feet, avoided a spinning backfist, and in the final 30 seconds both men let it all go to see if the other would fall. It did not happen. The judges scored it 49-46 and 48-47 times two for the new champion Straus.
Straus spoke to Jimmy Smith, basking in the glow of "third time's the charm" in St. Louis.
"I fought an extremely tough Patricio again, and I'm sure he's gonna want some getback. Really man I worked really hard on my defense, I broke my hand in the first round, I kept slipping on my takedowns, I knew when he had my back to stay calm. I just composed myself. Breathe, get hand control, work your way out and I knew I'd do that.
Scott Coker announced a fight for the Toyota Center in Houston - Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 5000. Afterward Kurt Angle and Ken Shamrock come to the stage, but Angle says he won't be fighting Shamrock on February 19th. Instead it will be another match-up between Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie on February 19th.
Second from the top was a Lightweight title defense for 'Ill' Will Brooks, going against Polish submission phenom Marcin Held. This fight almost got derailed when Brooks got in a pre-fight brawl with the Freire brothers.
Once the Missouri Office of Athletics weighed in, it was clear Brooks could proceed as scheduled, despite being bruised and bloodied in the scuffle. Was Brooks able to prevail or did the distractions play to Held's advantage?
Held had an excellent first round, getting Brooks to the ground and forcing him to defend multiple submission attempts. Brooks sat with his back to the fence like a pebble in the stream, unmoved as water flowed around him.
For the rest of the fight Brooks willingly played the ground game with Held, taking him down at will (no pun intended) and daring him to find a kneebar, toe hold or leg lock. Held tried, tried, and tried again. Every time he failed Brooks pounded on him with elbows to the face and punches to the body.
The final result from the judges was 50-45 and 49-46 times two.
Brooks spoke to Jimmy Smith after another successful title defense.
"In the first round when he got me down, my knee popped. I thought I was okay, in the second round I tried to plant on my leg, felt it buckle and thought naw I got to take it to the ground. I did what I had to do man. You gotta be smart and take care of your body. I'm not going to risk a serious injury you know? Once you get to the top everybody wants to be where you're at. We'll see what happens. I'm gonna get back in the gym. I just gotta get better you know."
Brooks also spoke about what Sean Grande described as "what may or may not have happened in a hotel on Wednesday."
"I want to apologize to the fans for a lot of unprofessional things that happened during fight week. We should represent this organization better than that. I want to apologize to them."
Gabi Garcia vs. Lei'd Tapa was announced for the Rizin Fighting show on New Year's Eve, along with 'King Mo' Lawal participating in a Light Heavyweight grand prix.
As a theme of "revenge" predominated the evening's festivities, we were also treated to a Lightweight rematch between 'Caveman' David Rickels and former Bellator Lightweight champion Michael Chandler.
The first match was ended by Chandler's fisticuffs in 44 seconds. Would the second encounter last longer?
This time it got to the second round, but the result was little different, other than the fact Chandler was taking Rickels down at will. At one point in R2 when they were clinched against the fence, Chandler simply kicked Rickels' leg out like a kickstand. When he got back up to trade blows, Chandler exploded his nose with a right hand and poured it on until Mike England had no choice at 3:05.
Jimmy Smith spoke to 'Iron' Mike after the results were made official.
"I've had so many people just pouring into my life decade after decade here in Missouri - I thank you all so much. I just listened to my coaches, I love you guys so much, Rickels is a tough son of a gun. Scott Coker PLEASE keep coming to St. Louis. The St. Louis fans are the best in the world. I feed off this!"
Josh Thomson spoke to Sean Grande and Jimmy Smith about his December 4th fight in San Jose with Pablo Villaseca.
"There's a sense of ease when you come into Bellator. Everyone feels like a family. It feels like a great experience for me to be here and I'm enjoying every step of it. Once I get past (Villaseca) then it's all title shots for me man. I'm not looking back, let me just tell you that. They didn't bring me here to lose."
Heavyweight Bobby Lashley also sought revenge against James Thompson, disputing the result of their last match for the Super Fight League in India. After multiple attempts to book this fight all year the time had finally arrived.
This was a one sided one minute contest. Lashley dove for the left knee, got a quick single leg, then relentlessly hammered Thompson with lefts and rights on the ground until Mike England stepped in at 0:54.
Jimmy Smith spoke to 'The Dominator' Lashley afterward about his dominant performance.
"It feels good man. I had a great training camp. I feel light! I feel fast today so I knew that I could probably do anything I wanted to in that fight. I don't think any of these heavyweights can stop my takedown."
Sean Grande asked Kurt Angle if he'd have a fight in Bellator as he sat in on commentary for Lashley vs. Thompson.
"I'm not going to tease everybody but there is a possibility. We'll see, but I'm getting my feet wet here in Bellator. I'm gonna have a good time, I'm gonna sit back for once in my life relax and watch, and eventually I'll make that decision."
Funny - that sounded EXACTLY like a tease to me.
Bellator 'With a Vengeance' opened on Spike featuring an important Featherweight ranking fight, with 'American Kidd' Justin Lawrence taking on late replacement fill-in opponent Emmanuel Sanchez.
For the first nine minutes and change Justin Lawrence was arguably in control, effectively counter striking and doing more damage as Sanchez relentlessly chased him. A late right leg kick to the head wobbled Lawrence, but the fence held him up and he survived to R3.
Sanchez got the takedown he wanted for most of the fight but Lawrence was able to spin his way on top and stayed there until 30 seconds left, leaving it to the judges to decide when both went to the bell standing. Sanchez pulled it out 29-28 X2, 28-29.
Sanchez spoke to Jimmy Smith after the fight.
"I believe it was that kick (in round two) and my pressure. Give it up for Justin St. Louis! He's only a month older than me but I've been watching him for a long time. I'm just here to pursue the American Dream, I'm trying to make my dreams come true too."
The televised bouts were paired with exciting "Prelims" action that aired exclusively on Spike.com.
Check out our live streaming Bellator 145 results RIGHT HERE to see who else made a name for themselves inside the cage last night in St. Louis.