Bellator begins their 2015 calendar year live from the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif. on Friday night with their featherweight championship on the line.

In the main event of Bellator 132, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire is set to defend his featherweight title for the first time against a man who isn’t far removed from his reign as the king of the division in Daniel Straus. The co-main event could have future championship implications as well when the former NCAA Division I wrestling champion Bubba Jenkins faces his toughest competition to date against Georgi Karakhanyan.

Freire (22-2) has finally reached the mountain top. He’s been one of the best fighters in Bellator for years now and although he’s been close to holding the gold a few times before now, he was finally able to achieve his dream of being a champion in the promotion when he dethroned Pat Curran back in September. Freire isn’t somebody who is used to losing a round let alone a fight. The two losses in his career were both split-decision losses: the first to current Bellator bantamweight champion Joe Warren and the second to Curran in 2013.

Straus (22-5) only needed one fight after losing his featherweight championship to Pat Curran (who then would lose it Freire) to prove he was qualified for another shot at the title. In less than a minute in his fight following the loss to Curran against Justin Wilcox, Straus decimated Wilcox with a brutal left hand and solidified himself as contender once again. Not only does Straus have the chance the become the king of Bellator’s 145-pound division once again, be he also has the opportunity of avenging one of his five career losses. Struas dropped a 3-round decision to Freire in 2011, but has gone 9-1 since that loss. You can check out the most recent interview with Straus right here. 

Let’s take a closer look at the two guys competing in the night’s co-main event: Bubba Jenkins and Georgi Karakhanyan.

Jenkins (8-1) is no stranger to success. After a decorated collegiate wrestling career which concluded with a NCAA Division I title at Arizona State University, Jenkins has shown that he has the potential to be elite in mixed martial arts. He suffered a setback loss to Larue Burley in 2013, but was able to respond tremendously to the loss with four straight wins. If you missed our interview with Jenkins from earlier in the week, click here to take a look. 

Georgi Karakhanyan (23-4-1) would probably love nothing more than to put a screeching halt to the championship hopes of Bubba Jenkins. Karakhanyan is the former World Series of Fighting featherweight champion and is a veteran of the sport with some impressive names on his resume. Before his most recent loss, he was on a 9-fight winning streak outside of Bellator. He is definitely a fantastic test for the young Jenkins, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Karakhanyan has plans of crashing Bellator’s featherweight championship picture.

Stay tuned for live results and recaps from Bellator’s first card of 2015.

MAIN CARD SUMMARY

Patricio Freire (C) vs. Daniel Straus

It’s time for the main event of the evening, where Patricio Freire defends his featherweight strap for the first time against former champ Daniel Straus. We’re set for 25 minutes or less as Straus attempts to win back the title he quickly lost in 2014, while Pitbull Freire attempts to prove he really is at the top of the mountain in Bellator’s featherweight division.

Round 1 starts conservatively until an accidental headbutt brings about a pause. Straus comes on strong after the break, moving forward and generally being the aggressor. Freire does catch him with an elbow but eats a shot in return.

Round 2 sees the fighters much more settled in. It looks like a blow might have hit low but the fighters push on. A second low blow grazing Freire following a knee attempt causes ref Big John to pause the action. The two quickly go right back to it. Another stoppage brings about the boo-birds, and Big John is a little more stern with Straus. This time the infraction was an eye poke, and Straus has a point deducted. That could be huge. As the action resumes Freire works on a guillotine attempt, then Straus comes through we a great toss. However, Pitbull’s scramble makes all the difference as he manages to maintain control. Pitbull has some swelling over the right eye, but continues to press, keeping Straus up against the fence and working the body. A great sprawl helps him maintain control. Body shots are the story here. Straus manages to latch on to Freire’s back at the end of the round, but the bell rings almost immediately. Even without the point deduction, Pitbull takes that round.

Round 3 and the fighters are sticking to the standing game. Straus lands a kick to the body. Both may be hitting a wall and looking for their second wind, but you wouldn’t know it as they still set a quicker pace than most fighters. Straus with punches to the body, Pitbull is countering. Straus connects with a solid left. Someone needs to explode to really change the course of this fight — but who? Straus with a headkick that Pitbull blocks. Swarms at the side of the cage, tries for the takedown but Freire reverses and lands on top. Freire looks for the heel hook but they’re back up. His eye may be becoming more of an issue. The fighters have a little more spring in their step now. Straus finishes the round winging hooks at Freire and attempting a takedown. Give him that round.

Round 4 opens with Freire quickly pushing Straus up against the fence. Short punches from Pitbull while Straus tries to work in the overhooks. The move from the fence. Pitbull is bleeding much more openly now. Straus with another headkick, again blocked. Straus connects but fails to capitalize. Back to Freire pushing his opponent up against the page. Pitbull goes body, Straus counters with punches followed by another kick. Big low blow by Pitbull, knee to the cup. Pitbull swarms as Big John tries to separate him, gets in at least one solid shot to a grounded shot. Pitbull actually thinks he has won. Big John calls for time. Freire’s eye is a mess; Straus is a mess due to the late punches. After a few minutes they’re back at it. Could that have changed the outcome of the fight? Straus may have been opened up during those final shots prior to time being called. Pitbull scores a strong takedown, and tries for the back. Straus struggling to change position until he can work for an arm bar, but moves into a trouble spot with a tight rear-naked choke. With seconds left in the round, Straus taps!

Patricio Freire defeated Daniel Straus by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 4,  4:49 to retain the Bellator featherweight championship

Bellator Announces Kimbo Slice Signing

As reported by just about every MMA and sporting outlet earlier Friday, Bellator MMA has officially signed Kimbo Slice. 4-2 in MMA, 7-0 as a pro boxer, Slice hasn’t set foot in the cage for years, but says he’s still hungry, and will no doubt manage to draw for at least his first fight with the promotion.

Bubba Jenkins vs. Georgi Karakhanyan

The co-main event of the evening features up-and-coming Bellator featherweight and former NCAA wrestling champion Bubba Jenkins taking on former WSOF champion Georgi Krakhanyan in a fight that marks the biggest of Jenkins’ career thus far.

Round 1 opens with a big slam by Jenkins but Karakhanyan scrambles well and works for a guillotine choke. This wrestler vs. jiu-jitsu battle looks intense. The choke looks tight, but Jenkins escapes. However he’s right back into the choke, tries the slam but fails, goes down, and Jenkins is out!

A quick win for Karakhanyan. Post fight, it’s announced that he will get the next title shot against the winner of tonight’s main event!

Georgi Karakhanyan defeated Bubba Jenkins by submission (guillotine choke), Round 1, 1:49

Houston Alexander vs. Virgil Zwicker

A rematch of their draw from Bellator 129, Houston Alexander faces Virgil Zwicker for the second time in under six months. Back in their first fight, Alexander saw a point deducted for an illegal headbutt, which cost him the fight.

Round 1 sees the two light heavyweights circling and feeling one another out to start. Alexander then shoots and gets the takedown. Zwicker is active from the bottom and gets to the wall. Alexander hangs on and unloads heavy body shots. Good hip placement by Zwicker as he tries to work his way up, but Alexander quickly has him back down, and Zwicker is in a little more trouble this time, seemingly unsure on whether to reverse or wall walk back up. Alexander in half-guard, but unable to do much with it. The ref warns them to work. Zwicker tries to explode, makes it up, only to see Alexander throw a knee his way. Zwicker at some point has been cut. Zwicker comes on strong at the end of the round and catches Alexander. That may have wobbled him. He recovers, and the two are trading as the round ends. Great finish to the frame.

Round 2 opens conservative but about a minute in Zwicker catches Alexander, and the latter falls to the mat (possibly a slip). Zwicker pounces and lands on top, unleashing short elbows while Alexander is in half-guard. Elbows and forearms continue to rain down. Alexander struggles on the ground. Zwicker moves to let him back up then times an upper-cut as Alexander gets back to his feet. Fans clearly on Zwicker’s side. His cut continues to leak, but it’s Alexander who has taken the worse of this round at the two minute mark. With just over a minute to go Alexander knocks his foe’s leg out from under him and scores a takedown. He finishes the round on top.

Round 3 opens with two tired-looking combatants meeting in the middle. This may be the deciding round. Zwicker lands a side kick. Not a ton of action in round three. Alexander is really telegraphing his shots. Zwicker looking to land upper-cuts. It may come down to the last minute. Zwicker using his jab. And it’s time for the spin cycle! Both man throwing bombs, both men caught at the end. This may wind up in a split decision.

Virgil Zwicker defeated Houston Alexander by Split Decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)

Fernando Gonzalez vs. Marius Zaromskis

Opening the Bellator 132 card was former Dream welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis against Fernando Gonzalez, and the two immediately began trading leather in the first round. From the look of things early, neither fighter wanted the bout to go the distance. Zaromskis tries a knee and falls. Gonzalez is showing superior accuracy. Gonzalez is trying to stay on the inside, and Zaromskis is back-peddling. Round one to Gonzalez.

Round 2 has the fighters exchanging kicks, and again, Gonzalez looks to be the crisper, cleaner fighter. Zaromskis is fading fast, still throwing and trying a pair of knees, but they seem more to be moves of desperation than part of a methodical attack. The Lithuanian catches a kick and manages to land a few, tries for a spinning-backfist but misses. Gonzalez, however, continues to be the aggressor, taking advantage of angles and manages to push Zaromskis down. He pops back up (it was more of a slip); Gonzalez finishes the round looking for the takedown from the back.

Round 3 opens with Gonzalez connecting with the first punch thrown. Zaromskis needs a finish. He’s picking his spots, while Gonzalez seems to be taking the conservative route. However a scramble leads to Gonzalez having brief control from the back which leads to a guillotine attempt to no avail. Back to standing and training. With a minute to go, Zaromskis will be head-hunting. Head kick attempt misses. The fight goes the distance.

Fernando Gonzalez defeated Marius Zaromskis by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

FULL RESULTS

Patricio Freire defeated Daniel Straus by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 4, 4:49 to retain the featherweight title
Georgi Karakhanyan defeated Bubba Jenkins by submission (guillotine choke), Round 1, 1:49
Virgil Zwicker defeated Houston Alexander by Split Decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
Fernando Gonzalez defeated Marius Zaromskis by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Preliminary Card

Everett Cummings defeated Jason Glaza via technical submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2, 1:55
John Salter defeated Dustin Jacoby by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2, 3:33
Steve Kozola defeated Jonathan Rivera by KO, Round 2, 1:25
Derek Anderson defeated Danny Navarro by TKO, Round 3, 3:51
Albert Morales defeated Fabian Gonzalez by submission (rear-naked choke), Round  2, 3:12
Chris Herrera defeated Luc Bondole by KO, Round 2, 3:21