When Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Daniel Straus met for the first time at Bellator 45 in 2011, both men had won 16 fights but had yet to wrap Bellator’s 145-pound title around their waist. Freire won the season four tournament final and had the right to challenge Joe Warren to a rematch, but his hand injury would cause a slew of stars to rise and claim gold instead.
The parade of champions starts with Warren’s defeat at Bellator 60 in Hammond, Indiana on March 9, 2012. Pat Curran knocked Warren out in the third round to claim the Featherweight title. Freire finally got his title shot at Bellator 85, but for the second time in his Bellator career he would suffer a split decision loss — this time to Curran instead of Warren.
Here is where things start to get interesting. Although Curran quickly dispatched with Shahbulat Shamhalaev in his next title defense with a guillotine choke, Freire’s former opponent Straus had gone on a five fight win streak that included the season six Featherweight tournament in 2012. Like Freire before him that win entitled him to a world title shot, but unlike Freire he’d capitalize on his opportunity at Bellator 106.
Curran made a critical mistake during the fight and delivered an illegal knee while Straus was on the ground in the third round, earning a one point deduction in the process. The judges would have found in favor of Straus either way though as he took the title by scores of 49-45 and 48-46 X2 to claim the Featherweight title “Pitbull” had chased for so long.
If you expected that would immediately lead to the second fight between Straus and Freire you’d be dead wrong. Curran invoked his rematch clause for the first trilogy of Straus’ career at Bellator 112, becoming the champion for a second time in Hammond, Indiana. Straus was 14 seconds from going to the judges when he got caught in a rear naked choke.
At this point the Featherweight title almost seemed to be cursed, and Curran would be the next victim to fall to it when Freire got a rematch with him at Bellator 123 on Sept. 5, 2014 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. This one would not be a split decision. Freire outworked Curran over five rounds for a unanimous 48-47 and 49-46 X2 title win.
At long last this world title victory for “Pitbull” would put gold around his waist and a bullseye on his back. Daniel Straus wanted to reclaim what he had once held and was confident he could beat Freire this time. He’d get that opportunity on January 16, 2015 at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif. as the main event of Bellator 132.
The rematch four years in the making did not disappoint. There were multiple instances of deja vu in this fight, including Straus getting a one point deduction for fouls in round two, and Freire landing an illegal knee in round four. The knee was to the groin so Straus was given time to recover, but after a restart Straus once again fell to a short time submission.
Stay tuned for the third chapter in this saga as the two would meet again at Bellator 145.
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