While the UFC has already had its beginning to 2015 with UFC 182, Bellator is now ready to start the new year with a title fight of its own.

Bellator 132 takes place on Friday night from the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif. and features Patricio “Pitbull” Freire defending his featherweight championship against the former champion Daniel Straus.

Also featured on the card is rising featherweight contender Bubba Jenkins squaring off against the veteran Georgi Karakhanyan, the former champion at 145 pounds for the World Series of Fighting.

We’ll take a closer look at those two fights as well as some other interesting storylines to keep an eye on.

Here’s what to watch for at Bellator 132:

Prospects looking to remain undefeated

Steve Kozola vs. Jonathan Rivera is your classic matchup of two undefeated prospects in their promotional debuts. Rivera and Kozola have both started their careers as well as they possibly could have. Each have 4-0 records and all eight of their combined wins have come via finish. Sadly, only one of them can remain undefeated on Friday night and the other will have to rebound from their first career loss.

Other undefeated prospects on the card include Everett Cummings (8-0 with one loss in his amateur career) and Fabian Gonzales.

Is Bubba Jenkins ready for elite competition?

It was only in 2011 that Jenkins was winning a national championship while wrestling at Arizona State and now he’s got the Bellator featherweight title in his sights. Besides a setback against Larue Burley at Bellator 100, Jenkins has lived up to the hype that has surrounded him since he first transition into MMA from collegiate wrestling. He bounced back from the loss to Burley (his first career loss) by winning his four. The one knock on Jenkins so far has been the argument that he hasn’t really fought many noteworthy opponents.

Georgi Karakhanyan will be his biggest test so far in his young career. Karakhanyan is the former WSOF featherweight champion and has gone 9-1 in his past ten fights. His last fight was a loss that stopped a 9-fight win streak and ended his brief reign as the 145-pound champ at WSOF.Despite Karakhanyan’s somewhat journey-man career, he’s a veteran who has only lost four times his 27-fight career (two of losses came against the current Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire and bantamweight champion Joe Warren).

No matter the outcome, we will learn a lot about both fighters on Friday night.

Will the featherweight championship change hands again?

The Bellator featherweight championship has been like picking names out of a hat where the only slips of paper in the hat are Pat Curran, Daniel Straus, and Patricio Freire. If victorious against Straus on Friday night, Freire would have the first successful title defense in that division since Curran beat Shahbulat Shamhalev at Bellator 95.

Straus smothering style of fighting could be dangerous for Freire if Straus is able to stay of out Freire’s range and use his wrestling to stifle Freire’s attack. Freire has already beaten Straus in the past back at Bellator 45, but Straus is a totally different fighter than he was in 2011. Freire can’t rely on that fact if he wants to go 2-0 against Straus after it’s all said and done.

Let’s see on Friday night if some stability will find it’s way to Bellator’s featherweight division.

About The Author

Blane Ferguson
Associate Editor/Senior Staff Writer

Blane can trace his MMA roots, like many others, to the finale of the first Ultimate Fighter season between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin. After watching that incredible fight and cleaning the local Blockbuster of any recorded UFC pay-per-views they had, Blane was hooked on watching the sport and he carried that passion with him to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Blane is a four-year broadcasting veteran of ASU's campus radio including a founder and co-host of the station's combat sports show, The Final Round.