Emmanuel Sanchez has raised his hand as a legitimate title contender after submitting Daniel Straus at Bellator 184.Sanchez (now 16-3) outclassed Straus from the very first moments and looked to have the answer for all of Straus’ attacks. He showed excellent scrambling ability, composure, and balanced aggression before forcing Straus to tap to a triangle choke at 1:56 of round three.
Sanchez entered this fight after scoring an impressive victory against former Bellator bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao. Though, the victory was plagued by Sanchez’s inability to make weight. Sanchez weighed in three pounds over that day and had impacted his chances of scoring a title shot. Now, Scott Coker and Bellator are almost forced to consider Sanchez as the next title contender in the division after Bellator 184.
Daniel Straus now moves to 24-8 after losing to Sanchez. Bellator 184 marks the first time that Straus has ever lost consecutive fights in his career. After defeating Patricio Freire and winning the Bellator Featherweight Championship at Bellator 145, Straus handed the title back almost immediately as Freire won the rematch at Bellator 178. Now, Straus is forced to work his way up the ladder again if he hopes to become a three-time featherweight champion at Bellator.
Sometimes the first moments of a fight can give insight as to what to expect from both fighters throughout the contest. In this fight, it was true as both fighters showed outstanding scrambling ability.
Since I signed with Bellator I’ve always taken on everyone Scott Coker has put in front of me. Nothing is changing now, so tell me, who’s next? It doesn’t matter what weight class, or who it is, I’ll fight anyone.
It was Daniel Straus who initiated the first takedown and while Sanchez attempted to roll out, his movement was blocked by Straus who ended up on top in side control. With Sanchez’s feet pinned against the cage, it looked as though Straus would be able to work. However, Sanchez quickly transitioned into a kneebar attempt. Sanchez’s facial expressions best illustrated the power that he was generating through his hips in the submission attempt. Straus, who remained comfortable throughout, eventually worked out of the submission and into north-south.
The grappling exchanges were high-level and it was Sanchez who again ended up in a dominant position by taking Straus’ back. Sanchez immediately locked in a body triangle and began looking for Straus’ neck. Sanchez attempted a rear-naked choke with no success before ending the round with ground and pound.
Daniel Straus and Emmanuel Sanchez were clearly not looking for a decision victory at Bellator 184. At the start of round two, the fighters started going after each other again immediately. After a number of fascinating scrambles, Sanchez ended up on top in Straus’ half guard and he began to damage his opponent with strikes. One of the more beautiful transitions occurred with two minutes left in the round as Sanchez slide through Straus’ half guard and into side control before immediately transitioning to knee-on-belly and into full mount. From mount, Sanchez began teeing off on Straus who was forced to cover up and protect his face. It was a brutal beatdown from Sanchez and the referee arguably could have stopped the contest then and there.
It wouldn’t change the result, though. Not long into the third round Daniel Straus found himself stuck in an Emmanuel Sanchez triangle. Straus had tried to scramble but a reactive Sanchez answered by locking him up. Initially, the triangle was on the wrong side but Sanchez elbowed away at the former two-time champion before switching sides. Straus was jammed in the triangle choke and had no option but to tap.
This was a breakout performance for Emmanuel Sanchez. It was also the realization that Daniel Straus might not be able to hang with the ‘new blood’ in the division.
Fight rating: 80/100
Sanchez did everything right. He attacked, attacked, attacked and consistently went after the stoppage. He scrambled when required and escaped any danger from Straus. On the offensive, he showed impressive submission ability and awareness of how to finish.
Daniel Straus didn’t look all that bad, Emmanuel Sanchez just had his number tonight. Straus kept fighting on through the second and third round despite being slaughtered. It was almost a lost cause, though, as Sanchez was winning each and every scramble.