5 reasons to watch Bellator 178 and its rare tetralogy fight between Daniel Straus and Patricio Freire
“Bellator 178: The Tetralogy.” OK, that’s not the official tagline for Friday’s event, but it could be.
In the main event, featherweight champion Daniel Straus faces former champion Patricio Freire for the fourth time.
Freire defeated Straus by decision in 2011 and by submission in January 2015. In their third meeting, which took place in November 2015, Straus earned a unanimous decision win of his own, taking the featherweight title from Freire.
Straus has not fought since that victory. Instead, he’s spent a good part of the past 17 months rehabbing after surgeons inserted a titanium plate and six screws into his left hand, which he broke in the first round of the five-round title fight with Freire in their third meeting.
Bellator 178 takes place Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.
1. I know that dude
Straus and Freire have racked up just short of one hour of total fight time in their three previous meetings. With that kind of familiarity, don’t expect either man to be too surprised by what the other brings to the cage in Connecticut.
The one thing that does stand out about the fight is Straus’ layoff. That prolonged time away might end up being a blessing or a curse for Straus, who is ranked No. 7 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings. Straus (25-6 MMA, 11-3 BMMA) will be well rested and rid of any nagging injuries, but he might also be rusty or reluctant to test his surgically repaired hand, and that might give No. 8 Freire (25-4 MMA, 13-4 BMMA) a reason to employ an aggressive game plan early.
2. A title hopeful
Since joining Bellator in 2015, Macfarlane (5-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) has gone 4-0. If she defeats Middleton (2-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA, Macfarlane could set herself up as one of the fighters competing for the flyweight title when the promotion gets around to crowning a champion in that division.
Despite her winning streak, Macfarlane hasn’t received the promotional push fellow flyweight Anastasia Yankova has received. That’s shocking since Yankova has looked average at best in her three Bellator outings and has yet to fight at the flyweight limit with the promotion, instead fighting at catchweights above 125 pounds in each of her three Bellator contests.
If Macfarlane can move to 5-0 with Bellator and 6-0 overall, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the promotion put some muscle behind her ahead of her next bout.
3. Avoid playing it safe
A.J. McKee was a juggernaut in his first five fights with Bellator, earning knockout victories in three of those contests and submissions in the other two. His stoppage streak ended in his sixth Bellator fight, but he still pulled off a unanimous decision win against Ray Wood after getting rocked by a flying knee in the first round.
McKee’s most recent fight had none of the excitement of his first six bouts. At Bellator 171, McKee employed what can best be described as a safe game plan. He worked at distance against Brandon Phillips in that contest, effectively using the advantages he had over Phillips in height and reach.
By no means did the fight set McKee back – he won by unanimous decision – but it did slow the hype train of the 22-year-old fighter. If McKee wants to show the matchmakers he’s a real contender for the featherweight title, he’s going to have to revisit the aggressive style he employed in his previous fights.
McKee’s (7-0 MMA, 7-0 BMMA) opponent, Dominic Mazzotta (11-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), has nine stoppage wins and an eight-fight winning streak to his name. Mazzotta’s only loss is a 2014 knockout defeat at the hands of current UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt.
4. Making noise early
Two fights into his Bellator career, three-time NCAA wrestling champion Ed Ruth has two first-round TKO wins to his name. Ruth has looked good in those contests, using his wrestling to get the fight to the ground where he’s employed heavy strikes to end both fights.
In the limited amount of time Ruth has spent in the cage he’s looked like a solid prospect. Yes, he relies on his wrestling, but by no means does he employ a “lay-and-pray” style.
Ruth (2-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) faces David Mundell in a middleweight bout at Bellator 178. Mundell (6-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) began his career with a five-fight winning streak, but he’s 1-2 in his last three, including a knockout loss to current UFC welterweight Mike Perry.
5. Slow and steady
Like Ruth, Tyrell Fortune signed with Bellator in 2015 with zero MMA experience to his name. Also like Ruth, Fortune, at one time an Olympic hopeful in wrestling, has ended both his fights by TKO. However he has not looked as dominant as Ruth in those outings, and it seems like Bellator is taking that into account in its matchmaking.
At Bellator 178 Fortune is matched up against a third straight opponent who is making his professional MMA debut. Fortune (2-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) faces former college football player Branko Busick (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) in this heavyweight matchup.
Publication Date: April 20, 2017, 10:15 pm
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