Pat Curran (right) gained the champion’s respect at Bellator 39. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
In the eyes of most, Pat Curran didn't win a single round of his Bellator lightweight title clash with Eddie Alvarez.
However, even in defeat, Curran was able to accomplish something, as he solidified a reputation as a hard-headed, stubborn foe by going 25 full minutes with one of the sport's most potent finishers.
“I have about a 90 percent finishing rate and sometimes things don't go the way you plan them to,” Alvarez explained at the Bellator 39 postfight news conference. “Maybe I was a little too patient; maybe he had a little too hard of a head.”
Curran entered the bout a prohibitive underdog to Alvarez. In the bout itself, the 23-year-old struggled to land offense of his own against the fleet-footed champion. However, Curran demonstrated vastly improved defensive wrestling, shutting down all of Alvarez's early takedown attempts, and quickly scrambling from underneath as the contest progressed.
“It was an honor to get to fight a world class fighter like Eddie,” said the humbled Curran, now 13-4. "All I can do is go back to the gym and work on my mistakes. I've got a long future ahead of me."
Curran's toughness was blatant enough that it earned a special place in the heart of Alvarez.
“I'm a little bit disappointed, but still happy I was able to go five, five-minute rounds, and that Pat was the first opponent I was able to share that with,” Alvarez explained. “Thank you for that, Pat. We'll always share that together.”
The younger cousin of UFC and Pride veteran Jeff Curran, “Paddy Mike” roared to prominence in last year's 155-pound Bellatot tournament, where he blitzed Canadian Mike Ricci before toppling favored entrants Roger Huerta and Toby Imada. However, part of Curran's underdog profile owed to the fact that he entered the tournament largely known for his exploits as a featherweight. With preliminary talks of Bellator's fifth season featuring another 145-pound tournament bracket, Curran is keeping his options open.
“It's always a possibility,” said Curran when asked about participating in a future Bellator 145-pound tournament. “I came into this tournament as a 145 [pounder], moving up a weight class. It can always happen, so, it's a possibility.”
Strange though it may seem, it's a possibility that many would love to see, largely due to what Curran showed in defeat.
“He had more heart than I would've dreamed of," said the champion, praising his opponent. "More congratulations to him than me.”
Chris Nelson contributed to this report.