While UFC #1 contender Conor McGregor was the most talked about featherweight over the past week, Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire had his own big fight against Daniel Straus last Friday. In what was Pitbull's first title defense, the Brazilian pulled off a 4th round rear-naked choke of Straus in a fight filled with fouls and tense moments. It was by no means an easy win for Freire, who was knocked down in the 3rd and was generally outstruck by someone who was billed as the inferior striker. Nevertheless, Pitbull still has a strong claim for being the best featherweight outside the UFC and an inarguable claim that he's one of the top FWs in all of MMA.
In an interview with the press over the weekend, Pitbull discussed a variety of topics pertaining to the fight, including Straus' surprising stand-up:
He nullified my game on the feet. His distance was better than mine, but it's good. We need to go through tough fights to appreciate what we have so we are always looking to improve. If I always fought dominating my opponents without being hit back some times there would be no fun in it. That's the fun part, to have a war, there has to be a war. I was expecting an easier fight, actually not easier, but one where I would find my game more on the feet. He was good, he was able to find himself well, but he got a bit lost when I started to hit him in the body near the cage and then after the double leg I got him with I killed his game. He was coming strong on the first rounds, but later he started to slow down.
A key moment in the fight came in the 2nd round when Straus was deducted a point for another eye poke, and when added with the low kick to the groin and a 1st round headbutt, this was more or less a deduction made by John McCarthy due to an accumulation of fouls. Freire had this to say about the fouls and how it affected him in the 3rd round, which proved to be Straus' strongest:
He put a finger on my left eye, then kicked me low. When he got me with a head butt I lost sight on my left eye and through the right eye I was seeing three of him. It was blurred. The third round I didn't do anything because I was recovering my sight, otherwise I'd be knocked out. I couldn't see shit, I was getting by on reflexes alone.
I fought a real fighter, a true fighter. A guy that offers danger to anybody, that can be the world champion. It wasn't a nobody. I didn't fight a bum. I fought a former World Champion! He was a southpaw, had a much bigger reach and he's so big (size and weight) he could even fight at Welterweight. Go check that guy's numbers.
The first round was pretty even, back and forth. The second I was winning and he lost a point. The third round was all him. The fourth round was back and forth and I won the fight. It was a war and I got the victory, I deserve respect, God damn it!
Freire's next title defense will be against former WSOF champion Georgi Karakhanyan, who put Bubba Jenkins to sleep in the co-main to Pitbull vs. Straus. It's yet another rematch for Pitbull, who fought Pat Curran twice, Straus twice, and enters the Karakhanyan bout having beaten him in 2011.
We fought almost 4 years ago and back then we were both favored to win the tournament. He had a nice run outside of Bellator and returned after losing his belt. I thought the fight with Bubba Jenkins would be harder but he's shown the strength of his guillotine. It's going to be a good fight. I thought Bellator would wait for Daniel Weichel to fight before deciding who I'm facing next, but if that's what they want let's do it.
(Translations provided by Matheus Aquino)