Bellator 45 Recap: M'Pumbu Takes Out Hale for 205-Pound Belt, "Pitbull" Freire Tops Straus in Featherweight Tourney

In his first three fights under the Bellator banner, light-heavyweight Christian M'Pumbu has three straight victories by TKO and a championship belt around his waist.

M'Pumbu showed sharp striking in the opening frame of Saturday night's Bellator 45 event from the L'Auberge Du Lac Casino and Resort in Lake Charles, LA. His opponent, Richard Hale, traded strikes evenly in the opening frame until he was caught and dropped with a M'Pumbu left hook. Hale recovered well, and even proceeded to turn things around in the second by switching to southpaw and assuming control with a blistering volume of strikes.

M'Pumbu, who connected with leg kicks despite becoming noticeably more defensive and hesitant, changed his tune midway through the third by upping his aggression and eventually flattening Hale with an overhand right. After a brief pause, M'Pumbu dove into Hale's guard and loosened a salvo of ground-and-pound for a third round TKO stoppage. Christian M'Pumbu becomes Bellator first 205-pound champ and advances his record to 18-3-1.

Patricio "Pitbull" Freire suffered the only loss of his career to Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren by controversial decision at Bellator 23 in June in of 2010. Now, after clenching the Season 4 featherweight tournament with his unanimous decision over Daniel Straus, he'll get the chance to avenge that loss.

In a frenetically paced tilt, Freire and Straus traded a litany of strikes and takedowns throughout all three rounds. "Pitbull" played off Straus's offense early, countering the southpaw's rush of straight punches with a mixed bag of level changes and counter-strikes. Straus, an accomplished high school wrestler on a twelve-fight roll in MMA, was able to work his hip throws from the clinch, but Freire proved impossible to contain by popping immediately back to his feet. Freire plastered him with pinpoint combinations and pressured him relentlessly, never letting off the accelerator.

Though each round was closely contested and Straus mounted a comparable mount of offense, only one judge gave him a round for a 29-28 count overall, while the other two notched it 30-27 for Freire. Joe Warren met "Pitbull" in the cage afterward and expressed his confidence in duplicating the same outcome of their first encounter, but did so with a smile and paid his respect by raising Freire's hand in victory.

The broadcast opened with a middleweight scrap pitting Karl Amoussou against Sam Alvey and his perma-grin. Amoussou performed impressively in the first by latching underhooks and launching Alvey with a throw from the clinch, then locking a strong mount and mashing down a vicious series of elbows that opened Alvey up. Bleeding profusely and still mounted, Alvey wisely offered a straightened arm to the maliciously pounding Amoussou, who fell into the trap and rolled for a loose armbar that the crafty Alvey turned into an escape.

Still smiling, Alvey hurled punches to open the second, and showed uncanny sweep abilities after Amoussou took him down. After the beating he endured, Alvey slowed Amoussou's momentum with good clinch control and strikes from the top in a fairly even and uneventful second round. Alvey caught Amoussou off-guard while he was working a trip in the third, and planted him on his back before posturing up for his most meaningful ground-and-pound of the fight as the horn sounded.

One judge saw it 29-28 for Amoussou, but the others had the same score for Sam "Smile 'N" Alvey, who wins his Bellator debut to the chagrin of some fans and attendees who disagreed with the decision. The full Bellator 45 results are after the break.


Christian M'Pumbu def. Richard Hale by TKO (Unanswered Strikes 4:17, Round 3)

Patricio "Pitbull" Friere def. Daniel Straus by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Sam Alvey def. Karl Amoussou by Split Decision [29-28, 29-28, 29-28]

Shawn Jordan def. John Hill by TKO (Unanswered Strikes, Round 1)

Tim Ruberg def. Mike Fleniken by Unanimous Decision [30-27, 30-27, 30-27]

Rene Nazare def. Kalvin Hackney by Submission (RNC 4:46, Round 1)

Joseph Abercrombie def. Ben Parpart by Submission (RNC, 1:11, Round 1)

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