The 99-degree heat in Yuma, Ariz., did nothing to diminish Bellator41. The judges took care of that all by themselves.
Champs Joe Warren and Zack Makovsky each won their non-title matches, while Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Daniel Straus punched — and choked — their respective tickets to the finals of the Season 4 featherweight tournament with impressive third-round finishes at Cocopah Resort and Casino.
While Makovsky, Freire and Straus all finished their opponents, Warren got dominated by his for two rounds. But it was not enough for Marcos “Loro” Galvao, who came out on the wrong side of a unanimous decision, curiously dropping all three rounds on one of the cards and losing two of three rounds on the other judges’ cards.
“Very bad night,” Warren (7-1) said. “He’s a great fighter. But I pulled the win out.”
For his efforts and possibly as a consolation, Galvao (9-4-1) earned himself a Bellator contract and will be in the next bantamweight tournament, one in which Warren says he will compete, in addition to defending the 145-pound belt for as long as possible.
“I’m totally disappointed and in disbelief ,” Galvao told MMADieHards.com. “I did the best I could and feel like I was robbed. There’s a reason the crowed booed.”
Bellator’s competition model is to give title shots only to tournament winners. In order to keep its champions from fighting sporadically, the promotion gives them non-championship fights, and no belt-holder has ever lost, a streak that appeared in serious jeopardy before Warren was awarded the win.
Warren, a world championship-level wrestler who aspires to make the US Olympic team for the 2012 London Games, could not get his Greco-Roman game going until the third round of the bout, which was contested at a catch weight of 137 pounds. Warren’s wrestling weight is 132 pounds. Perhaps the late takedowns he scored at the very end of each of the first two rounds made the difference in the eyes of the judges for Warren in what appeared to be a curious decision.
Makovsky (13-2) is the bantamweight champion but has yet to defend the title he won late last year. Warren recently looked ahead to challenging Makovsky for his belt at 135 pounds on the Bellator Beat show on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. Warren and Galvao potentially could meet again in pursuit of Makovsky’s 135-pound belt.
Makovsky stayed ahead of Robichaux from the opening bell, edging him in a close first round but taking over from the opening bell of the second. Not content to have it go to a decision, Makovsky achieved mount and, after having two rear naked choke attempts defended by Robichaux (11-1), went for ground-and-pound to earn the first TKO of his career, as the fight was called off at 3:48 of the third and final round.
He has won seven straight and is unbeaten in his career as a bantamweight.
Freire (16-1) was engaged with Wilson Reis in a close battle in their Season 4 semifinal bout in the featherweight division, a rematch from Season 2′s semifinals, and it went his way again. Freire got in a kick that stunned Reis (12-3), who was unable to fend him off thereafter and eventually ate a series of pinpoint punches, the last of which floored Reis for a knockout at 3:29 of the third round.
Straus became the first featherweight to reach the tournament finals when he submitted Kenny Foster with 1:12 left in the fight.
“Very excited, been watching him for a while,” Straus said of Freire, who lost to Warren in the Season 2 finals. “He’s a great fighter, so I’m excited to fight him.”
“I’m a fighter and I like to be complete,” Freire said. “The part that is easy for me, is that I would like to search for more.”
Freire’s brother, Patricky, will fight Michael Chandler for the 155-pound Season 4 tournament title and a chance to fight champion Eddie Alvarez.
Straus (16-3) was getting the better of Foster through two rounds. Foster showed signs of life in the third, but Straus caught him in a guillotine and did not allow an escape, eliciting the tap that sent him to the finals and earned him his 10th consecutive win.
Foster (9-3) had reached the semifinals with an upset of Eric Larkin.