In what seems a puzzling move, Bellator officials have opted to go with an immediate rematch between new featherweight champion Daniel Straus and former titleholder Pat Curran. Their trilogy fight will take place on Mar. 14 at Bellator 112. Curran gets the title opportunity instead of Season 9 featherweight tournament winner Patricio Freire despite losing a rather one-sided decision to Straus in their five-round title clash at Bellator 106.
As for “Pitbull,” he’s not happy about having to wait for his title opportunity. Freire expressed frustration on his Facebook page questioning the Bellator mantra of being the organization where title shots are earned and not given. He believes the organization didn’t respect his tournament wins which included an impressive first-round stoppage of Justin Wilcox in the final. It seems odd that the organization wouldn’t reward one of its more entertaining and explosive fighters. Freire is 9-2 fighting under the Bellator banner with six victories by knockout or submission and has won two featherweight tournaments.
Straus unseated Curran as champion in their November contest by simply outworking him throughout the course of the 25-minute contest. His takedown game was solid, and his ground and pound helped to smother Curran’s potent attack. Straus also was able to land several solid left hands during the fight. It was sweet revenge for Straus who suffered a knockout loss to Curran back in 2009.
While a Straus-Curran trilogy fight seemed inevitable at some point, the decision to have the two fight again after what was a rather conclusive result is a bit of a head-scratcher. Even Straus was vocal in expressing the opinion that if a system is in place then the organization should stick with it. He was obviously referring to Curran getting to bypass the tournament format for an immediate rematch. It would seem as though the best move would have been to have Straus make the first defense of his title against “Pitbull,” the only man to have defeated the current champion in his nine-fight Bellator tenure. The powerful Brazilian registered a decision victory over Straus in the final of Bellator’s Season 4 featherweight tournament. The decision now leaves a logjam with both Freire and Season 8 tournament winner Frodo Khasbulaev awaiting title shots. Khasbulaev has had his Bellator career stalled by visa issues.
There’s no denying that Straus-Curran 3 should be a good fight between two solid fighters, and it’s also quite clear that the winner on Mar. 14 will have their hands full down the road against an angry, motivated Freire.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports