After a couple of months of radio silence, Bellator returns to the Spike TV airwaves Friday night. This time the show is anchored by a featherweight title bout between champion Patricio 'Pitbull' Freire and former champion Daniel Straus. This is the second meeting between the two and one that likely could go the full five-round distance. Also on the card are other featherweight standouts as well as other names familiar to the casual fan.
What: Bellator 132: Pitbull vs. Straus 2
Where: Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula, California
When: Friday, the preliminary card starts at 7 p.m. ET on Spike.com/MMA Fighting. The four-fight main card starts on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.
Patricio Freire vs. Daniel Straus
This fight isn't getting nearly the pre-fight acclaim it should. These are two experienced, world-class, highly-talented featherweights. One (or both) could be argued to be among the division's elite. Both can go the distance. This is actually a rematch only this time a title is up for grabs. What's not to love?
As for who will win, that's a tough thing to predict. Both fighters are not who they once were when they first met at Bellator 45 in May of 2011. Of the two, Straus has made the most progress. His takedowns aren't just better or more complete, they now lead to more meaningful offense once established. He also doesn't get lost in fights the way he once used to do. He can stay focused and adhere to a game plan from beginning to 25-minute end. Still, though, I'm going to lean towards the Brazilian. He, too, is dangerous until the very final bell and a significantly more accurate, heavier-hitting striker. Most importantly, his takedown defense has really turned in a corner in the last year. He's had to hold onto, much less hold down. He can stuff, separate and attack in an instant. He also has counters in the middle of takedown attempts, meaning he just doesn't defensively react, but mixes in offense at the same time.
The first fight was very close. I don't expect this to be a runaway for either guy, but Pitbull should be able to hold onto his title.
I'd have no problems being wrong here. Jenkins has real star potential. He's also come a long way since his initial foray into MMA. He doesn't go bezerk in the early stages of the fight. He patiently puts together the portions of his offense. His has more expertly adapted his cage takedowns as well as ground and pound riding. That said, I'm not sure what he presents that Karakhanyan hasn't already seen or defeated. Is Bubba Jenkins a better fighter than Lance Palmer? Probably not. I'd also say while Jenkins has made progress, his offense is still limited. There's also the issue of Karakhanyan being the most experienced and best opponent he's faced. Jenkins might be able to get a takedown or two. Maybe it's much closer than I'm giving it credit, but Karakhanyan has proven his ability to answer this kind of challenge.
Your guess is as good as mine. I don't know what to say. Zwicker's chin is insanely good, but his physique at the weigh-ins doesn't inspire confidence. He's also never been particularly elite. Alexander, if nothing else, can slug it out, but is much older now and doesn't have a great gask tank (and never did). I don't know.
Gonzalez isn't a world beater, but there's a few things to acknowledge here. First, he's gotten a lot better over time. His record is somewhat deceiving, at least for this level. Second, he doesn't have an offensive ace in the hole, but doesn't make a ton of mistakes. His game is conventional and straightforward, but he's ironed out a lot of the wrinkles. Third, his gas tank is great as is his offensive consistency. At one point, I'd have said that wouldn't matter against someone with the abilities of Zaromskis, but those days might be past us. Someone with a more ordinary skill set isn't setting the world on fire, but it might be good enough to get past a wild risk taker in the 'Whitemare'.