Eduardo Dantas promised if the Bellator bantamweight championship fight went to the ground, his jiu-jitsu would be up to the challenge. Consider him a man of his word. Dantas shrugged off a takedown to take top position on Zach Makovsky, then transitioned to an arm triangle that choked out the champion in the second round.
"This is what I do," he said after winning.
The fight was expected to feature quite a bit of grappling, given Makovsky's wrestling aptitude and Dantas' BJJ black belt. The first round certainly had its share, with Dantas threatening from the bottom with an oma plata and triangle. His aggressive performance constantly put Makovsky on the defensive, even in positions that are traditionally advantageous.
The 23-year-old Brazilian then finished in the second. After Dantas opened with a hard left hook, Makovsky had enough of the standup and shot in for the takedown. But Dantas used a switch and almost immediately worked to full mount. Makovsky briefly scrambled to half-guard, but Dantas re-set and hurt him with elbows and punches from the top before locking in the arm triangle. Makovsky tried to defend it, locking his hands under his knee to create space, but Dantas' squeeze was too much, and he eventually choked Makovsky unconscious before celebrating his first major title.
Dantas improved to 14-2 with the win, while Makovsky fell to 14-3 after losing the belt in his first title defense.
The champion's next opponent might have shared the cage with him on Friday night, as Bellator 65 also featured the bantamweight tournament quarterfinals, with Marcos Galvao and Luis Nogueira advancing.
Galvao (11-5-1) came into the fight saying he wouldn't let it go to a decision after suffering controversial decision losses in two of his previous three fights. He did, but this time the judges got it right, valuing his aggression and effectiveness by identical 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 scores.
Galvao controlled most of the action throughout, utilizing power strikes and takedowns to keep West on the defensive. Galvao also dropped West on two separate occasions with punches, and even though he couldn't finish, it was enough to earn the win.
Nogueira joined him in victory, squeaking past Alexis Vila in a 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 decision.
Nogueira looked strong early, scoring two takedowns on the 1996 Olympic wrestling bronze medalist in the first round. But Vila seemed to find his stride as the fight went on, establishing the jab for extended periods and scoring takedowns of his own. It wasn't enough, though, as Nogueira was able to outpace him late. Nogueira (13-2) stayed collected and measured with strikes while Vila got wild with heavy punches. Vila tried to steal the final round with a late takedown, but Nogueira popped up in an instant and outworked him in the fight's final moments.
Straus got off to a great start, knocking Corey down with a straight left in the fight's opening seconds. The rest of the bout didn't go quite as easily for him though. Corey worked his way back into fight by trying to turn it into a grind. He was able to hold Straus against the fence for spurts, but whenever the two engaged in the center of the cage, it was Straus' speed and accuracy that prevailed.
The judges scored the bout 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Straus, who improved to 19-4. This will be his second straight featherweight tournament final. In 2011, he lost to Patricio "Pitbull" Freire by decision. His 2012 opponent Sandro beat Roberto Vargas and Alexandre "Popo" Bezerra to advance to the final.