Pat Curran will enter the cage on a six-fight winning streak. | Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Bellator Featherweight ChampionshipPat Curran (19-4, 9-1 Bellator) vs. Daniel Straus (21-4, 7-1 Bellator)
The Matchup: Curran’s rise to prominence began when he entered Bellator’s Season 2 lightweight tournament as an alternate. An underdog in each of his bouts, he defeated Mike Ricci, Toby Imada and Roger Huerta to earn a shot at then-lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. After losing a gutty, unanimous verdict to Alvarez, Curran dropped to featherweight, where he has truly blossomed. He became the first person to win Bellator tournaments in two different weight classes by capturing the promotion’s 2011 Summer Series bracket with victories over Luis Palomino, Ronnie Mann and Marlon Sandro before claiming the 145-pound belt with a violent third-round TKO against Joe Warren. “Paddy Mike” has since defended his belt twice, earning victories over Patricio Freire and Shahbulat Shamhalaev.
How has he done it? While his standup has received the lion’s share of the attention -- particularly since he toyed with the idea of taking a professional boxing bout over the summer -- Curran is as well-rounded as any featherweight in the sport today. In addition to his striking, the Team Curran member has solid wrestling and grappling skills. Take his most recent fight against Shamhalaev, where he shot for a double-leg and deftly ducked under his opponent’s sprawl to secure an arm-in guillotine to end the bout in less than three minutes. His takedown defense has held up nicely against the likes of Alvarez, Warren and Imada, and on the rare occasions when he is planted on his back, he can initiate scrambles or threaten with submissions from his guard.
Straus is well aware of his foe’s skills, having lost to Curran via knockout under the Xtreme Fighting Organization banner in 2009. Since then, Straus has won 17 of 18 fights, earning his shot against the champ with wins over Jeremy Spoon, Mike Corey and Marlon Sandro in 2012. The Team Vision product is rarely pretty in victory -- seven of his nine Bellator outings have gone the distance -- but top-notch conditioning and a grinding style make him extremely effective. Straus is going to find it difficult to impose his will on Curran through clinch work and wrestling, however. The Ohioan is accustomed to bullying opponents with his size and strength, but the champion has the fundamentals to keep him at a safe distance.
Straus’ standup consists primarily of straight punches and leg kicks, and against many foes, he uses his stout takedown defense to keep the fight upright. In this instance, he would probably prefer to rely on his wrestling to score takedowns, because he will not be able to outpoint Curran on the feet. Curran’s offense is based on intelligent movement and timing. He has a stiff jab and will utilize feints to make opponents come forward. Curran’s ability to use angles while slipping and parrying punches can be frustrating; even Alvarez had difficulty landing cleanly. He will counter his opponent’s advances with a number of attacks, including a lead hook, teep or flying knee.
While Curran is economical in his movement, he is often flat-footed, but Straus lacks the speed and explosion to capitalize.
The Pick: Straus is about as durable as they come, so a second knockout loss seems unlikely. With that said, Curran should be able to keep the fight upright and land at will en route to winning a unanimous decision.
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