Yesterday Bellator MMA sent out a press release announcing that the organization's featherweight champion Daniel Straus will fight former champion Pat Curran at Bellator 112.
Curran beat Straus in 2009. but lost a decisive unanimous decision, and his title, to him in November.
At the close of the press release was the organizations mission statement.
"Bellator MMA is the world’s largest tournament based Mixed Martial Arts organization... Bellator’s founder & CEO, Bjorn Rebney, is an experienced fighting sports and entertainment executive with a deep commitment to the purity and integrity of the sport of MMA and its athletes. Bellator’s core philosophy is that title shots should be earned, not given. This belief gave rise to Bellator’s real sport, tournament-based format, which gives Bellator’s tournaments a true playoff feel that keeps the sport true and distances itself from the subjective side of fighting sports found in organizations that utilize a matchmaking/casting formula."
If Bellator is a tournament-based event, then in the eyes of many, granting a rematch two months later does not make sense, as there are not one but two featherweight tournament winners waiting for their earned title shot.
Magomedrasul Khasbulaev, won the season 8 tournamant, but has not been able to get licensed in the USA, which makes a title shot problematic. However, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, won the featherweight tournament at Bellator 108 in November - his second tourney win - AND beat Straus in 2011.
Freire lost in a title shot to Curran a year ago via Split Decision, but has been on a 4-0 tear since, with three KOs and the aforementioned tournament win.
In an interview with MMAJunkie's John Morgan, an irate Freire said if Bellator doesn’t believe in him, they should let him go.
“I’m very disappointed with the whole situation,” said Freire. “I’m very upset with the organization. I’ve knocked out three of my past four opponents.
“I lost to Curran in a split decision, so I felt like I deserved to get back in there and have another shot at him. Instead, I had to go back to normal fights and the tournament, but I knocked out three of my next four opponents and feel like I’ve done enough again to get the shot now.”
“They said I would be fighting the winner of Straus vs. Curran III, but I question why that fight has to happen first. I told them I should get the shot, and then they just said that’s the direction the company is going and for me to just keep doing what I’m doing. Nothing they do right now is going to make right what they have done to me.”
“Ever since I started training, I never stopped unless I was seriously injured. Nothing is going to keep me out of the gym, but I’m really upset at this decision. Still, I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing and prove I’m the best featherweight in the world.
“I’m upset at the whole thing not going the way I thought I was going. I’ve got faith to keep training and keep doing what I’m doing, and hopefully everything will work out. But if Bellator doesn’t believe in me – if they don’t want me to be champion and to do things right – I’d like to just ask them to let me out of my contract.”
Straus too was not impressed, via Facebook.
"My perception is that Bellator wants him as champ so bad not only does he get immediate rematch but gets it in his hometown damn near," wote Straus. "Any thoughts?"
That is a good question.
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