TEMECULA, Calif. -- It took a couple of fight-turning low blows, an eye poke, and a stunning finish, but Patricio Freire remained champion.
"Pitbull" submitted Daniel Straus with a rear-naked choke at 4:49 of the fourth round Friday night in the main event to retain his featherweight title at Bellator 132 here at Pechanga Resort & Casino. For the second straight title fight, Straus tapped to that submission as time ran down in a round.
Straus (23-6) was winning the bout, just like he was last March against Pat Curran when he fell with just 14 seconds left in the fifth round.
Freire (22-2) dropped Straus with a knee to the groin earlier in the fourth round. Referee John McCarthy was late coming over to break it up and "Pitbull" pounced with some ground and pound before McCarthy physically lifted him off.
Freire did not lose a point in the exchange, but it seemed to change the fight. Earlier, in the second round, Straus was docked a point for an eye poke, which happened right after a low blow. It was an odd sequence and "Pitbull" seemed to be favoring his eye more than the groin strike.
Freire likely won that round 10-8, but Straus came back and outstruck him in the third. He was probably beating "Pitbull" in the fourth, too, before the low blow. Afterward, Freire argued that it was not low, that it was actually a clean shot that dropped Straus.
When action resumed after that, Freire was clearly the fresher fighter. He managed to get Straus down and get his back slickly. With just seconds left, "Pitbull" was able to cinch in the choke for the rollercoaster victory.
"I stuck to my game plan and showed why I'm the champion," Freire said. "And still!"
Georgi Karakhanyan made quite the case for getting the next featherweight title shot and he was granted one by Bellator president Scott Coker immediately after his victory.
Karakhanyan submitted Bubba Jenkins with a guillotine choke at 1:49 of the first round in the co-main event. The former World Series of Fighting champion looked excellent on the ground against the stud wrestler. Jenkins did not tap -- he went to sleep. And referee Herb Dean was pretty late coming in to stop the action.
"I'm the king of all the guillotines," Karakhanyan said afterward.
Karakhanyan (23-4-1) has now won 10 of his last 11 fights. He's clearly one of the best 145-pounders on the roster right now. One of the most well-rounded, too.
Jenkins (8-1), a former Division I wrestling champion out of Arizona State, is still just 26 years old. But his days of being a can't-miss prospect are officially over.
The fans in attendance were perhaps never more excited Friday night than when they were watching hometown boy Virgil Zwicker defeat Houston Alexander via split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28) in what was kind of a tedious rematch. The two turned it on late, though, to get the crowd all riled up. Zwicker and Alexander fought to a draw at Bellator 129 in October.
Marius Zaromskis and Fernando Gonzalez came out on fire in their fight. The first round was a back-and-forth striking war with each man getting in big shots. But by the time the second hit, both were fairly gassed. Gonzalez was a little less tired and won the majority of the striking exchanges from then on to earn a unanimous decision victory (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
The prelims were filled with action. None of the fights went to decision and three were finished via rear-naked choke: Everett Cummings over Jason Glaza, John Salter's win over Dustin Jacoby and Albert Morales over Fabian Gonzalez.
Steve Kozola beat Jonathan Rivera by knockout, Derek Anderson took out Danny Navarro by TKO and Chris Herrera starched Luc Bondole to round out the early bouts.