Bellator’s 68th event overcame some consistent difficulties regarding fighters pulling out, as the show ultimately ended up being a memorable way to bring the promotion’s sixth season one step closer to its end. We saw Daniel Straus win the featherweight tournament with a workmanlike effort against the world-ranked Marlon Sandro, while Marcos Galvao won a decision in a competitive fight against Travis Marx to punch his ticket to the bantamweight finals.
Straus Does Enough; Does a Championship Await Him?
Daniel Straus’s victory over Marlon Sandro simply reinforced a couple of fundamental truths about mixed martial arts, the most important of which is that you cannot allow your opponent to be much more active than you.
You could argue that neither fighter did a whole lot in terms of “damage” during the fight, but when that is the case, what’s the tie-breaker? Activity. You can break it down and talk about strikes thrown and landed, effective grappling, positional control, aggression, and so forth, but it all comes down to this: are you doing anything? Is your opponent doing more than you?
Sandro let much of this fight go by, seemingly content that his opponent was doing more than him. Sure, I would agree that pushing your opponent against the cage and holding him there has little real value, but the reality is that when two or more minutes of five-minute rounds are being spent that way, who is winning those minutes? The guy who can’t get his back off the cage? Of course not. While you may not want to reward that kind of strategy (or stalling, depending on your viewpoint), it certainly can’t be punished on the scorecards, either.
In the cage, you may be thinking that your opponent’s strikes aren’t hurting you, that you are landing the better shots, you can’t let your opponent outwork you. At some point, quantity matters more than anything else, especially when neither fighter does anything that particularly stands out. If you decide to be picky with the belief that you’ll eventually hurt your opponent when you get your opening, it’s a big gamble, because that opening often never comes and that big shot sometimes doesn’t land.
Straus, to me anyway, continues to win fights where he looks like he just wants it more than his opponent. It’s working great for him, and he is a good fighter, but he will now face a big test in the winner between Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Pat Curran. Straus has faced Freire before, falling by unanimous decision, and Curran is an elite opponent.
While Straus says he is a different fighter than he was when he first lost to Pitbull, I don’t know that I buy that. At least, I haven’t seen it in his more recent fights. He’s still going to try to outwork you standing up and grind you out along the cage, and I don’t expect that strategy to get him very far against either Pitbull or Curran. Then again, I could be wrong, and if either man showed up with less than complete and total focus, Straus would definitely take advantage. You can’t have an off night against Daniel Straus.
–Re: the Straus-Sandro fight- is there anything funnier-looking in MMA than the flying knee feint?
–Imagine the Straus-Sandro and Galvao-Marx fights if they had been officiated by Dan Miragliotta instead of Keith Peterson. In both fights, Peterson refrained from involving himself in the action, allowing the fighters to work in the clinch and forcing the defensive fighter to get his back off the cage in order to get out of the position. As a result, both fights followed their natural course and the fighters who should have won did win, without any help from the referee. That’s how it should be, even if it sometimes results in less-than-exciting bouts.
–By the way, Miragliotta was on his game Friday night, separating Marius Zaromskis and Waachiim Spiritwolf multiple times in the first round of their fight, including a trademark Dan Miragliotta “12 Seconds or Less” separation at the end of the first round.
–Speaking of Marcos Galvao and of passive approaches, I thought he made his fight with Travis Marx unnecessarily close with his puzzlingly passive attitude in the second round and the first part of the third round. Galvao did select well in terms of his strikes, but volume can’t be ignored if you want to win those close decisions regularly.
–How awful was the cross-promotional bit about “King Mo” Lawal appearing both in TNA wrestling and Bellator? I get why they’re doing what they’re doing (trying to build their own Brock Lesnar), but I do not envy Bjorn Rebney for having to grin and feign excitement over the whole thing.
Galvao saying he didn’t kick the cup…”*watches replay*…”I respectfully disagree with Marcos Galvao.”
-Jimmy Smith upon watching the replay of Galvao’s groin kick to Marx, one of a couple of painful-looking low blows on Friday’s show.
Beautiful Loser Award
Waachiim Spiritwolf ended the second round of his bout with Marius Zaromskis with the momentum clearly in his favor in what had been a competitive and pretty entertaining fight. Unfortunately, a cut low on his forehead (and closer to being above the bridge of his nose than his eye) was deemed too severe for the bout to continue, and he lost in the worst possible way. On the plus side, the stoppage allowed us the awesome visual of Spiritwolf walking the halls backstage with a scowl, as if he was looking for another fight.
Movin’ On Up Award
Daniel Straus has lost just once in Bellator’s cage: to “Pitbull” Freire in the Season 4 Featherweight Tournament final. Since then, he’s strung together four wins in a row and has won the most recent installment of the 145-pound tournament. We talked about him at length earlier in the column, but no matter what happens, he’s earned his title shot.
Holy $#!% Award
Who else gets this but Marcin Held, who may not have been facing his original opponent, Kurt Pellegrino, but still won memorably against Derrick Kennington with a nasty heel hook. He set it up beautifully off of a failed double leg takedown, which he used to pull Kennington on top of him, isolating Kennington’s right leg and cranking his way to the “W”. Great stuff.