Who wins the Patricio Pitbull vs. Daniel Straus and Will Brooks vs. Marcin Held title fights at Bellator 145, and how?
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire is one of the most dynamic fighters Bellator has, and one of the better reasons to tune in to a Bellator card. Showing acumen in both the striking and submission department, Pitbull has never been convincingly beaten, with his only two losses coming in split decisions to other fighters who have held Bellator titles.
Straus is a former featherweight titleholder whose four losses in the past six years have also only come to other or former Bellator featherweight champs. He managed to wrestle the title away from Pat Curran before losing it back to him in an immediate rematch. The loss was particularly heartbreaking, as he was clearly on his way to a decision victory before submitting to a rear-naked with 14 seconds left in the fight.
Straus is a much bigger featherweight than Pitbull, and used his size to push the champ around in their match earlier this year. In their first match, he again showed a propensity to succumb to chokes, when Pitbull slapped his own rear naked on the title challenger. Straus was competitive in the fight though, and used his size to his advantage. While not as dynamic in the finishing department, he’s a grinder, who will try to keep the fight close and dirty. His wrestling is his advantage, and he’ll try to use his weight advantage to tire Pitbull out while avoiding submissions.
Pitbull’s got some nasty striking for 145, but Straus hasn’t been put away in a very long time. Look for Straus to close the distance and wear Pitbull out with a smothering wrestling game. Straus by decision, to recapture the belt in a close fight.
“Ill” Will Brooks may actually be the best reason to watch Bellator right now. A legitimate top 10 lightweight, he beat Michael Chandler to take the interim belt, and then knocked Chandler unconscious to win the title outright when Eddie Alvarez vacated it in his move to the UFC. He’s fast, he’s can strike, and he can wrestle. While Chandler used to be the guy everyone hoped to see take on the best in the UFC, Brooks has inherited that mantle now.
Marcin Held is a fine fighter, who has a pretty good submission game, particularly for someone who’s only 23 years old. It’s not quite as surprising when you realize he has twenty-four fights worth of experience under his belt already. He’s coming in on a six-fight winning streak, and is hoping to continue that with a championship victory in his first Bellator title shot.
Unfortunately for Held, Brooks is just going to be too much for the young fighter. Held is better than the vast majority of lightweights in the organization, but Brooks is on another level. Brooks by unanimous decision as we get ready for the eventual trilogy match against Michael Chandler or title defense against former UFC veteran Josh Thomson.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think Pitbull beats Straus by decision in a somewhat close fight. Straus is a tough guy so I can’t expect a finish, but I think that Freire will control the pace of the fight and dictate the terms by which they fight. And the same holds true for Brooks. I think he beats Held by decision in a close fight. Brooks probably isn’t going to want to fight Held on the ground so I expect him to get takedowns and blanket Held. I don’t think either fight will be particularly exciting, but they will be tense.
BRAD WALKER, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
Pitbull and Brooks both feel like very safe bets going into these fights. Pitbull is a much easier lock he has beaten Strauss before and he has shown an ability to take opponents out of their game plan and frustrate them and any ability to build momentum. Brooks feels safe too in the fact that he’s beaten all comers and had some truly epic fights in his run as champion. I don’t feel like we’re going to see any belts change hands on this card, but Strauss and Pitbull should be a lot of fun to watch.
ERIC HOBAUGH, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
As for Brooks-Held, Brooks is pretty clearly the best lightweight in the world not in the UFC. For some reason though the guy can’t catch a break when it comes to the fans or MMA journalists. Maybe it was something to do with his lack of finishes…. Whatever it is, Brooks will cruise to an easy decision victory.