Pat Curran has suffered a training injury and will be unable to defend his title against Patricio Freire at Bellator 73.
Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney confirmed the news to ESPN.com on Tuesday evening. According to the report, Curran sustained a fractured orbital bone during a sparring session at his gym Tuesday morning. It is currently unknown if Freire will remain on the card.
Bellator 73 takes place Aug. 24 at Harrah’s Tunica Hotel and Casino in Tunica Resorts, Miss. The show’s main card airs on MTV2 and will showcase the Season 6 bantamweight tournament final between Marcos Galvao and Luis Alberto Nogueira, as well as the Summer Series light heavyweight final pitting Attila Vegh against Travis Wiuff.
Curran, 24, captured the Bellator featherweight title after winning the promotion’s 2011 Summer Series tournament, knocking out ex-Sengoku champ Marlon Sandro to earn a crack at Joe Warren’s gold this past March. Curran battered the smaller Warren in their Bellator 60 encounter, wresting the title from the self-proclaimed baddest man on the planet via brutal third-round knockout. Curran previously competed successfully at 155 pounds, winning the Season 2 lightweight tourney before stumbling against then-champ Eddie Alvarez last year at Bellator 39.
The younger of the “Pitbull” brothers, 25-year-old Freire earned his shot at the belt before Curran, but was unable to challenge Warren due to injury. Freire won the Season 4 featherweight tournament last year, stopping Georgi Karakhanyan and Wilson Reis before outpointing Daniel Straus in the final at Bellator 45. Known for his finishing ability, Freire has lost just once in 18 pro outings, falling to Warren in the Season 2 tournament final just over two years ago.