"Big, strong wrestler grinds out a victory over dynamic striker."
Patricio "Pitbull: Freire couldn't have enjoyed that storyline playing out last weekend when his brother Patricky was grounded often and lost to Michael Chandler at Bellator 44.
At Bellator 45, Freire penned a different story. From the start of his fight against Daniel Straus, the younger of the Pitbull brothers was wary of the former college wrestler's takedowns and avoided the mat for all but a few seconds on his way to winning the Bellator Season 4 Featherweight tourney title in unanimous fashion, 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27, last night in Lake Charles, La.
The win gets Pitbull (17-1) a $100,000 payday and chance to rematch against Bellator 145-pound champ Joe Warren.
"There were lots of things going on in my mind," Freire told Sherdog, "but the primary thing was the victory and [getting] a shot at a belt for the first time in my career. I'm going to be a champion. I'm going to take his belt."
Freire, 23, smoked Warren in the first round of a fight last June. Pitbull couldn't close it out and thwarted by Warren's ground attack over the next two rounds. With markedly improved takedown defense against Straus, Freire looked like a different fighter.
Straus, with a three-inch height advantage over the 5-foot-5 Freire, looked massive in the cage, but his size never took over. He executed a few nice throws, but Freire bounced right back up. When the fight was in the clinch, Pitbull more than held his own and by the third round he looked like the more powerful fighter.
The stoppage of the night was produced by Bellator's new light heavyweight champ. With 45 seconds left in the fight, Christian M'Pumbu caught the former champ with a right hook and pounded him out on the ground.