Bellator 178 "Straus vs. Pitbull 4" took place Friday (Apr. 21, 2017) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main event saw two of the world’s best featherweights meet for a historic fourth encounter in Bellator.
Featherweight champion Daniel Straus was inactive due to a broken hand suffered while beating Patricio Freire for the title, but now that he’s fully healed he and “Pitbull” would have the opportunity to run it back one more time.
Despite being the bigger man and the defending champion, Straus seemed to have trouble finding the range and connecting in Round 1. Freire outpointed him with body kicks and hard hands as he circled on the outside.
Unfortunately for Straus, things got even worse after that. When he shot in for a takedown early in the second round, Freire grabbed a guillotine and jumped up around Straus to crank on the head with all his weight, letting gravity force the issue as Straus was forced to tap at 0:37.
“Pitbull” and translator spoke to Jimmy Smith after he showed his wife and young son the belt. His answers came in both English and Portuguese.
“It’s a dream. It’s a dream come true. This belt is for my son. It’s my gift for him. I want him to be proud of his dad, and know that I overcame a lot to bring this belt back home to Brazil and my family. Yes I just wait for the right moment and that’s it. AND NEW! (Weichel) you are tough but I’m ready. You know that. You know that -- I’m here.”
In the co-main event two undefeated flyweights faced off as “Iliminator” Ilima-Lei Macfarlane squared off against Jessica Middleton, with both women looking to advance in a division that’s waiting to crown a champion.
Macfarlane knew exactly what she wanted to do and how she wanted to do it. She shot for the takedown, completed the single leg, transitioned to a full mount, and immediately grabbed the arm bar and pulled back with all her might. Middleton squirmed around in a painful predicament for a bit but once Macfarlane tucked it under her armpit at 2:15 it was too much to take. Macfarlane spoke to Jimmy Smith after her dominating one-sided submission victory.
“I was thinking ‘make the transition to the triangle’ which is one of my favorite moves BUT, I just made that small adjustment put her arm to the other side and I was able to tap her. Honestly I was not overlooking Jessica at all but I wanted to make a statement to Bellator and to the whole entire division that this is my division. If you guys are gonna put the belt out there then I want in on that. I just wanted to put on a performance that proves I need to fight for the belt next fight.”
She definitely made the case with that performance.
The main card bouts were also joined by promotional veteran Saad Awad looking to rebound from a loss to Brennan Ward by taking on Ryan Quinn.
Quinn got rocked by a short right hand early and from that point on all he wanted to do was shoot for takedowns. There was just one problem with that strategy -- even when he’d complete them Awad would overpower him. Time and again Awad would roll through and wind up in guard grinding the fight out with ground-and-pound, landing over 40 strikes through three rounds.
That made the decision pretty easy for the judges, who awarded Awad a unanimous decision via 30-27 x3. Awad spoke to Jimmy Smith about his grueling and gritty victory against the local favorite.
"I fight for my family, huh? This is a hard fight for me coming off two losses. You can boo me but Quinn is a hell of a fighter, give him a round of applause. I'm a mixed martial artist. I’m not a striker, I'm a fighter. I come to fight wherever the fight goes and I'm going to put on a show."
Also, undefeated featherweight star A.J. McKee took on promotional newcomer Dominic Mazzotta, whose only career loss to date came against UFC champion Cody Garbrandt.
If McKee was looking to be considered in the same light as Garbrandt he certainly took his best shot at doing so, unloading on Mazzotta with a huge left kick that cracked the cranium and brought an immediate halt to the fight at 1:15 of Round 1. This is a must see replay.
McKee spoke to Jimmy Smith after that visually dramatic finish.
“Yeah the Mercenary’s back baby! I want to thank everybody for coming out tonight. All my fans in Ireland, especially James Gallagher, how you doing baby girl? Let’s see if he gets past Lyoto’s brother. I see him as an up-and-comer, I’m gonna keep him as an up-and-comer. That was the Mirko Cro Cop kick, my dad taught me that. Thanks Mirko!”
These bouts were paired with exciting “Prelims” action which aired exclusively online.
For complete Bellator 178 results and coverage click here.