Straus Wins 145 lbs. Crown at STL’s Bellator 145

*Written on location- Scottrade Center, St. Louis MO

Daniel Straus is the perfect story. A Cincinnati native from “a troubled household who was living on his own by his Junior year of high-school”, he is “considered by some to be one of the greatest never to win a state title” as Bellator markets him in official event programs. Straus had been a former champion already, having lost to Patricio “Pitbull” Freire in Freire’s first defense of Bellator’s Featherweight championship.

Wanting not only to get his belt back, but “whoop [Freire’s] a** Cincinnati style”, Straus began his dominance with an opening left cross. Mostly unaffected, the defending champion moved forward. A solid right could have been the start of a flurry, but Straus ended any thoughts “Pitbull” had of trading leather with a clinch. A stuffed double-leg attempt from Straus is met with a knee.

The combatants separate as this time Straus finds success with a single-leg takedown and leg trip. Freie buys a flying knee attempt by the man in blue gloves and gets popped with a left hand. Hoping to send the Brazilian back to his corner breathing heavily, Straus shoves his patella deep into Freire’s midsection to end the first. Straus opens the second with leg kicks that only serve to score him some meager points, continuing forward by pawing and whiffing with his right. He shoots in, but “Pitbull” sprawls--access denied.They clinch again as an uppercut follows; it just grazes Freire. Straus is hit with a firm knee from the champ but rebounds with a double jab-right hand combo, putting Freire on the canvas. Appearing to be smothered, Freire surprises with a deep armbar. Straus forces him to go vertical, picking his man up and freeing the trapped arm in the process. Freire battles for the arm again. Shortly thereafter, Straus begins to alternate between a guillotine and rib shots. A succession of elbows and head kick finishes the stanza. Freire is shaken up a bit as the pair kick off Round 3, fortunately Straus’ ensuing single-leg is stopped yet again and he’s blasted with a right cross. A short exchange from point blank range and a messy swing from southpaw stance leads to another clinch. With a brief pocket of space between the two, the five knuckles of Freire fit the face of Straus like a glove.

An immediate counter follows from the challenger, another double is then stuffed by the champion. Both men get a chance to breathe as Freire is tended to following an eye poke. Straus brushes “Pitbull” with a six and a full-weighted four (left uppercut-right hook.) The cannons go off again until finally, the bell sounds again. Straus finds himself balancing on his right leg to begin the fourth as his left connects with his opponent's body. They continue to trade low, trying to cut each other down like California Redwoods. Another six lands for Straus as he then flurries with hooks that slice through the air. A headbutt brings the bout to another temporary hault. Almost seeming to guess the direction that the contest was heading, Freire lurches forward for a right cross and is rewarded. There’s only one problem: His enemy is now landing at will. There is now a gash left by a single, solitary, deadly iceberg--the Titanic has now steadily begun to sink to the depths of the Atlantic. Freire then proceeded with a classic MMA “no-no” by not respecting the striking ability of the man across the cage, walking hands down. Two blows from Straus go unanswered. WHAM! Another left accompanied by the reaction of Straus (shaking out the limb and moving forward with alternative attacks) lead some to believe he may be fighting injured. Surging on adrenaline, “Pitbull” finishes with most notably, a definitely high-def spinning back elbow. Clearly being outscored three rounds to one in favor of Straus, it all came down to the final five minutes--one last “go for broke” effort by Freire to keep his belt. All of the opening strikes are lefts- hook,jab, cross, a full arsenal- from Straus. Now all he has to do is stay alive and the championship gold is his.Freire struggles, wriggling from inside another front headlock as precious seconds pass. Trying force his way out he lands an elbow from in tight. A quick backstep leads to a vicious roundhouse at the hands (or rather, feet) of Freire. They grapple. The disciple of Jiu Jitsu inevitably slithers his way to the challenger's back into rear-naked choke position. Fortunately for Straus, the position isn’t advanced upon as Freire stays glued in place, attached like a backpack.The bout has now reached the point of being in football’s red zone and both are up and trading. Another burst is fended off nicely by Straus....then....OPEN SEASON! With arms filled up with blood and exhausted lungs, the warriors run down the last fifteen seconds-- the last seconds of “Pitbull’s” reign. A new Featherweight king has risen. Daniel Straus via Unanimous Decision- New Featherweight champion