Daniel Straus hits pretty hard for a grinder.
Long known as a wrestler first inside the cage, Straus (23-5) clobbered Justin Wilcox with a left cross for a first-round knockout Friday night. The non-title featherweight bout headlined Bellator 127 at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California.
Wilcox (14-7) was wildly aggressive early in the fight and paid for it, as he walked directly into the left hand. Straus froze and lowered his hands, almost in a pose, as Wilcox fell to the canvas. Straus threw another hard left to Wilcox's temple, but it was probably unnecessary, as referee John McCarthy stepped in immediately at the 0:50 mark.
"I told you what I was going to do," Straus said. "He came in and I saw he was going to come in real heavy, maybe try to grapple. I put that left hand on him and put him to bed."
It was quite a statement for the 30-year-old Straus, who surrendered the Bellator MMA featherweight belt in a submission loss to Pat Curran in March. Typically a highly conditioned fighter, Straus uncharacteristically gassed in that five-round fight and ended up tapping with just 14 seconds remaining in the final round.
The loss apparently did little to lower his confidence. He looked comfortable in the pocket early, landing a hard outside leg kick and then another kick to the body.
Wilcox did land a short right hand in the first 20 seconds of the bout that briefly stunned Straus and had him looking for a takedown. That momentum was short lived, however, as Straus landed the home run left hand moments later.
The win sets Straus up in good position to regain his title. Last month, Curran (20-6) came up short in an attempt to defend the belt against Patricio Freire (22-2). Prior to Friday, Straus told ESPN.com this would likely be his final appearance in 2014, although he wished to fight again if the schedule permitted.
When asked if he had a message for Freire, Straus answered, "Let's dance."
A member of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, Straus, 30, had won six consecutive bouts before the Curran loss. The win marks just the fourth knockout of his career and second within the first round. ESPN.com ranked Straus the No. 10 featherweight in the world heading into the bout.
Wilcox fell to 3-2 overall under the Bellator banner.
Gonzalez scores upset of Parisyan
Gonzalez (22-13) hurt Parisyan early in the first round with a short, counter left uppercut. Parisyan fell to his back and tried to pull Gonzalez into his guard but never fully recovered. Referee Mike Beltran stopped the catchweight bout at the 1:43 mark.
Fighting out of Team Quest in Murrieta, California, Gonzalez has now earned back-to-back upsets in the Bellator cage. He outpointed Karl Ammousou via unanimous decision at Bellator 112 in July.
Parisyan (24-11), who came into the bout on a two-fight winning streak, was visibly aggressive from the opening bell. He scored a few punching combinations early, including a right hook, straight left combination seconds before he got knocked down. The 32-year-old veteran kept his composure as he went to his back, but couldn't find a way to draw Gonzalez onto the floor. A few big left hands by Gonzalez forced Parisyan to roll over and cover up.
After the fight, Gonzalez said he had been forced to deal with personal issues during his camp for Parisyan.
"It feels great," Gonzalez said. "I'm sorry I missed weight. I had a friend of mine get murdered. It has been really tough. I'd like to dedicate this to him."
Gonzalez improved to 2-0 in the Bellator cage. This is his ninth knockout win. Parisyan suffered the sixth knockout loss of his career.
Silva takes decision over Emerson
Silva (22-4) dropped Emerson in the first round and took him down at will en route to winning the bantamweight contest. Emerson (17-11) rallied some in the third round, but a lack of takedown defense sabotaged any chance he had of getting back in the fight. Judges scored the fight 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Early in the first round, Emerson went momentarily limp after eating a straight right in the center of the cage. The Southern California-based fighter managed to lock Silva into his full-guard and force a standup by referee Michael Bell, but forfeited a takedown moments later.
It was a similar story in the next frame, as Silva slipped a lead left hook by Emerson and blasted through a double leg. Silva was not incredibly active from top position -- in fact, Bell stood the fighters up once in each of the three rounds -- but he did more than enough to win the first two rounds.
Knowing he needed a finish, Emerson woke up offensively in the third round. He landed a few hard leg kicks on the tiring Silva, but was again unable to defend the takedown. His standup was enough to win him the round, but not the fight.
For Silva, it's a nice rebound from a five-round decision loss to Joe Warren, which snapped a 13-fight win streak in May. Silva accepted that bout on short notice and failed to make weight. He missed weight again Friday, prior to fighting Emerson. Nevertheless, the Brazilian is now 3-1 in Bellator.
Emerson, 33, saw a five-fight winning streak snapped.
Grove dominates M'Pumbu
A move to 185 pounds did not put a stop to Christian M'Pumbu's recent struggles in the Bellator cage.
A former light heavyweight champion, M'Pumbu, 37, suffered his fourth consecutive loss, tapping to a rear-naked choke by Kendall Grove at 4:14 of the second round. It was M'Pumbu's first bout in the middleweight division.
Grove (21-14) nearly recorded the fastest knockout of his career as he planted M'Pumbu (18-7-1) with a right cross just five seconds in. M'Pumbu recovered quickly, however, and eventually stood back up and separated from Grove.
Despite the impressive recovery, M'Pumbu landed almost no offense in the fight. He repeatedly threw out his jab, but failed to land with much consistency. He tied Grove up in the clinch along the fence for long portions of the fight, but threw very little strikes from the position.
With two minutes remaining in the second round, Grove scored his first single leg takedown of the night. One would prove to be enough as Grove easily softened M'Pumbu with strikes, got him to turtle up, then took his back and choked him out with plenty of time to spare in the round.
"I'm here to stay," Grove said. "I think I just proved it, finishing a former light heavyweight champ. I want that belt. I'm going to make my way to the top, one guy at a time. Whoever wants some, come get some."
A former UFC veteran, Grove is now 2-1 since signing with Bellator last year. He suffered a second-round knockout loss to Brett Cooper in his last fight at Bellator 114. M'Pumbu suffered just the second submission loss of his career. His last victory came via TKO against Rich Hale in May 2011.