Bellator 184's Daniel Straus 'so (expletive) happy' to not fight 'Pitbull,' says 5th fight coming

When Daniel Straus returns to competition on Friday at Bellator 184, he will stand across the cage from someone other than Patricio Freire for the first time in more than two years.

He couldn’t be more thrilled about that fact.

Straus (24-7 MMA, 11-4 BMMA) and Freire (26-4 MMA, 14-4 BMMA) share arguably the most storied rivalry in Bellator history. They’ve fought four times since 2011, with “Pitbull” currently holding a 3-1 advantage. The most recent bout, at Bellator 178 in April, saw Straus lose the featherweight title to the Brazilian by second-round submission. It still frustrates him.

Despite the loss, Straus said he’s ready for a change in scenery when it comes to opponents. He meets Emmanuel Sanchez (15-3 MMA, 7-2 BMMA) in Friday’s Bellator 184 co-headliner, which takes place at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., with a Spike-televised main card following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Ideally Straus would have moved on to fresh competition with the 145-pound belt in his possession, but he’s accepted that’s not currently his reality.

“I’m so (expletive) happy to fight someone different,” Straus told MMAjunkie. “When you have to fight the same guy over and over and over, whether you won or lost, it does get to you.

“Bellator, they’ve done a great job with the matchups. I have nothing against it. But when you fight a guy four times, it kind of gets old. We had great fights. What can you say? Who didn’t want to see us fight again? That’s just how it goes in this business.”

For Straus one of the difficulties in getting past his most recent loss to Freire is the circumstances that surrounded the fight. After earning a unanimous-decision win over Freire in the third meeting, which took place at Bellator 145 in November 2015, Straus was forced into a 17-month layoff due to injuries. Returning from such a long break to defend his title was a great enough challenge on its own, but then he had to fight an opponent who knew him well.

Straus, No. 9 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, said he blames only himself for the situation. He said he doesn’t want to take credit away from No. 8-ranked Freire – even though he still considers himself superior.

“In that fight I just wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was,” Straus said. “Going into that fight when I was training, the week before the fight I had an incident that took away a lot of my confidence. I had a lot of things that played the part. Mostly coming into there, I didn’t even have a game plan. I was just ready to fight.

“I really do think I am better than Patricio. Hats off to him. He’s always done what he needed to do to become champ and stay champ. You can’t take that away from him. He was everything I wasn’t that night. He won. I can’t say (expletive) about that. I can only go back to the drawing board.”

Regardless of his feelings, Straus knows the scoreboard shows him down to Freire. The ultimate goal is to correct that with a fifth fight (and possibly more), but standing in the way is a tough up-and-comer in Sanchez. Straus praised his upcoming opponent but admitted “he’s not one of the best opponents I’ve fought.” He intends to prove his superiority at Bellator 184, and in his mind, that’s the first step toward regaining the belt.

“If I have to have 10 fights to get back to the belt, that’s fine with me,” Straus said. “I want to get back to that belt, I want to hold that belt, and I want to defend that belt. How many fights? I don’t know. That’s not my call. The only thing I can assure is the people they put in front of me, I’m going to put their ass out. I’m going to knock them down. That’s what my job is. A fifth fight with Patricio will happen.”

For more on Bellator 184, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator fighters sound off on promotion's lack of fight-night bonuses – and what they could mean

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News

With the promotion continuing to grow, some Bellator fighters are picking back up the rallying cry for some extra financial love.

The UFC, Bellator’s top competitor, long has had a fight-night bonus structure in place. That promotion used to have fluctuating bonus amounts, typically from $40,000 for smaller shows up to $70,000 for bigger pay-per-views. And for its blockbuster UFC 129 card in Toronto, the bonuses were $129,000.

These days, the UFC has settled into a flat $50,000 bonus structure for each show and hands out four – two performance bonuses, plus a “Fight of the Night.” Absent a compelling best fight, sometimes two extra performance bonuses will take its place.

But Bellator doesn’t have a formal fight-night bonus system, and it’s something some of its fighters would, naturally, love to see in place.

“I think Bellator is overdue in establishing ‘of the night’ bonuses,” featherweight champion Patricio Freire (26-4 MMA, 14-4 BMMA) told MMAjunkie. “(Former CEO) Bjorn Rebney talked about it. (Current President) Scott Coker talks about it. Bellator has the best event production in North America, and most of its fights are exciting. It’s rare to see someone fight not to lose in Bellator. Imagine knowing that if you put on a show, you get to keep your job, plus there’s a financial incentive to go above and beyond – a bonus for fight, knockout, or submission of the night.”

His brother Patricky Freire (18-8 MMA, 11-7 BMMA) agrees. And with seven of his 11 Bellator wins by knockout, he thinks a bonus system would’ve gone a long way for his personal finances.

“I believe Bellator should have done this already,” he said. “Bellator has the structure and the ability to do so. I think it would make the organization shine even more. It would make the fighters even more motivated. A lot of people ask me about that. I see smaller promotions that already offer submission, knockout, or fight-of-the-night bonuses. It would be the cherry on top. It would be exciting.

“If this had been in place when I signed up, I think I’d have a lot of money put away by now. Modesty aside, I think I would have earned several bonuses.”

Patricio believes if Bellator started up a bonus system, it also would work as a lure to bring talent over from organizations like the UFC. Bellator has made quite a few high-profile signings of UFC free agents in the past couple years.

Former UFC and WEC lightweight champ Benson Henderson, whom Patricky just beat in the Bellator 183 main event, won four bonuses in the UFC and another three in the WEC. He came to Bellator in early 2016 as a free agent

“A free agent in the UFC, who is known for earning bonuses, if he finds out that’s also a possibility in Bellator, wouldn’t that be extra incentive to come over?” Patricio asked. “I think Bellator should add all these kinds of bonuses – for finishes and best fight of the night. The funding is there. Bellator belongs to a gigantic conglomerate. It will be another step in the growth of the organization.”

Goiti Yamauchi

Goiti Yamauchi (22-3 MMA, 8-2 BMMA) submitted Adam Piccolotti in the first round at Bellator 183 and has seven of his eight Bellator wins by stoppage with six submissions.

“A bonus system would be great,” Yamauchi said. “It’s further incentive for fighters who are aggressive. Of my eight victories in Bellator, only one was a decision. It proves that I don’t back down and I always look for a finish. It would be a great incentive for fighters like me. I think the fans are there to see that sort of fight. I think that’s what I bring.

“I think I missed out on a few possible bonuses, but that’s no problem. Everything will work out in the end.”

The promotion returns next week for Bellator 184 on Oct. 6 in Thackerville, Okla.

For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Patricky Freire: Nothing personal against Benson Henderson even though he beat my brother

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Patricky Freire has a few missions to achieve at Bellator 183 on Saturday. But family revenge is not one of them.

One could certainly understand if that was the case. After all, Patricky (17-8 MMA, 10-7 BMMA) has in fellow headliner Benson Henderson (24-7 MMA, 1-2 BMMA) not only a former WEC and UFC champion, but also a man who holds a win over his own brother, 145-pound champ Patricio Freire.

Still, Patricky doesn’t see it that way.

First of all, Freire has a simple goal: winning. And he believes adding emotional components like a personal vendetta might get in the way of his focus. Second of all, while official records might show a TKO win for Henderson, neither of the “Pitbull” brothers believe that paints an accurate portrait of the Bellator 160 encounter.

“He didn’t do anything against Patricio,” Freire told MMAjunkie in his native Portuguese. “He only got hit. He unfortunately blocked one kick after getting kicked about 10 times in the first round. He blocked it off of reflex and, unfortunately, hurt my brother.

“If he thinks getting beat up for a round-and-a-half is an advantage (for him) … I have a heavier hand, and I’m bigger. I’m the big ‘Pitbull.’”

Patricio, who was present in the room, couldn’t help but chime in when the question about revenge was asked  – wondering why this narrative kept coming up when “Smooth” was the one who actually got beat up in their lightweight encounter.

To their credit, the Freires are not exactly off in the assessment that Henderson was looking quite lost in their bout before Patricio’s injury. Whether the merit for checking the kick was Henderson’s or not, which is an age-old MMA argument, fact is that Freire was the one who declared himself unable to continue due to a hurt shin.

Both Patricio and Henderson have fought since. Patricio went back to his 145-pound division and won a tetralogy bout with Daniel Straus to reclaim the belt, while Henderson lost a split decision to then-champ Michael Chandler in a 155-pound title affair. Patricky, in turn, is coming off a big knockout win over Josh Thomson.

With two losses – and this one reasonably awkward win – making up his most recent three-fight record, Henderson walks into Saturday’s headliner (knee injury or not) seemingly different than the same guy who terrorized the UFC’s lightweight division a few years ago.

But as someone who’s had his share of setbacks, including a three-fight losing skid in 2012-2013, “Pitbull” knows better than reducing his opponent to this tough break.

“He’s certainly one of the top fighters in the world,” Freire said. “I’m not going to take that away from him. There are good times and bad times in careers. I think he’s going through a bad time – a whirlwind.

“He’s going through a turbulent time in his mind. He’s coming off practically three losses. So he’s probably trying to find himself, to re-create himself, to do something to win this fight. He’s probably demanding a lot from himself. I know it, because I’ve been through this.”

In any case, Freire has his own plan to worry about. Hoping to become Bellator’s lightweight titleholder in the not-so-distant future, for instance, the bigger “Pitbull” wants him and Patricio to be the first pair of brothers to be simultaneous world MMA champions – even better that it’s at a major promotion like Bellator.

But there are a few other things Freire wants to see happening both before and after the lightweight belt – currently held by Brent Primus – is placed around his own waist.

“I want to win in a flashy, beautiful manner,” Freire said. “And to send a message to the champion. I am going to beat up Brent Primus. He asked to fight me twice. Twice the fight was scheduled, and he ran.

“Then, I want a rematch with Michael Chandler.”

To hear from Freire, with the help of wrestling coach/interpreter Eric Albarracin, check out the video above.

And for more on Bellator 183, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 188 features title rematch between champ Patricio Freire, Daniel Weichel

Daniel Weichel nearly captured the Bellator featherweight title the first time he fought champion Patricio Friere. Now he’ll get a second chance.

Bellator today announced on Twitter a title rematch between “Pitbull” (26-4 MMA, 14-4 BMMA) and Weichel (39-9, 8-1 BMMA) to headline Bellator 188, which takes place Nov. 16 at Menora Mivtachim Arena Arena in Tel Aviv, Israel. The event’s main card airs live on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

It’s the Viacom-owned promotion’s second trip to Tel Aviv after a sellout show at Bellator 164, which featured Douglas Lima’s welterweight title-winning bout against Andrey Koreshkov.

Freire makes the first defense of his featherweight title in his second stint as Bellator champ. In his previous bout, he submitted Daniel Straus to win back the belt after a decision loss to Straus in 2015.

Prior to that fight, Freire took on Weichel at Bellator 138 and survived an early scare when he was knocked to the ground at the end of the first frame. Weichel came out to finish in the second and instead caught a punch that knocked him out.

Also confirmed for the event is a middleweight bout between vet John Salter (14-3 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) and Anatoly Tokov (25-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA). Salter is on a four-fight streak with Bellator, most recently submitting Kendall Grove at Bellator 181, while Tokov beat Francisco France via TKO at Bellator 172.

For more on Bellator 188, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie