Pat Curran has authored some of Bellator’s most memorable finishes. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
The forthcoming bout between two-time Bellator MMA champion Pat Curran and Emmanuel Sanchez has all the makings of a crossroads clash.
A veteran of 27 fights and a professional for some seven years, Curran enters the matchup having lost two straight and three of his last four, while the 24-year-old Sanchez has tasted defeat just once in 11 career appearances and will hit the cage on a six-fight winning streak. However, Curran has no intention of serving as a stepping stone for the Roufusport prospect when the two collide at Bellator 139 on Friday at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kan.
“This fight is completely different for me,” Curran told Sherdog.com. “This is the first time I’ve ever had a two-fight losing streak. I definitely need it and want this win pretty bad. It’s a change for me. I’ve got more stress and pressure, but I think the experience I have will help me to keep my composure and take care of business. I know what I need to do, and I’m going to take care of business. Having lost my last two is going to make me want to go out there and want it more.”
In his most recent setback in February, Curran lost a split decision to German export Daniel Weichel, who parlayed the victory into a title shot against reigning Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire on June 19. In that fight, Freire knocked out Weichel with a counter left hook in the second round. Curran admits he would like a shot to win the Bellator title for a third time, but he also knows he will have to earn the opportunity.
“I feel like with a couple of good wins I’ll be right back in line,” Curran said, “but I’m going to have to work for it. Bellator isn’t going to put me right back in a title fight, but if I can get a few more wins, I can definitely be there.”
The first fighter to win Bellator tournaments in multiple weight classes, Curran had engaged in six straight title fights prior to his encounter with Weichel, going 4-2 in those appearances. Overall, “Paddy Mike” owns a 10-4 record inside the Bellator cage, with six of his wins coming by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
Curran’s road back to the 145-pound throne starts with Sanchez, who replaced Brazilian Goiti Yamauchi and took the fight with about three weeks’ notice. Sanchez holds a 2-0 mark under the Bellator banner, having tapped Stephen Banaszak in the first round of their October bout before earning a unanimous decision over Alejandro Villalobos at Bellator 135 in March. His only loss came to former World Series of Fighting talent Lewis Gonzalez via decision back a little more than two years ago. Curran represents a major step up in competition, as his resume includes wins over Bellator mainstays such as Freire, Joe Warren, Daniel Straus (twice) and Marlon Sandro, along with other such notable names as Ultimate Fighting Championship veterans Roger Huerta and Mike Ricci, onetime WSOF title challenger Luis Palomino and former King of the Cage champion Tony Hervey.
Curran feels confident he can slow Sanchez’s ascent.
“He’s a great opponent,” Curran said. “He’s very tough. I know his style and what he brings to the table and he does, too. He’s on an impressive win streak and brings a lot of pace to the fight. He’s a great striker from a good camp and that makes for a dangerous combination, but I’m looking to stop that streak and take him down a notch. Camp has been going great. I’m at home at Team Curran, and I’m enjoying it here. I have my training partners that I’ve been with for years and my coaches are all there, too.”
The two featherweights will be familiar with each other due to a road trip Curran took before “El Matador” stepped into the fight a few weeks ago.
“It took me a little by surprise [when Yamauchi withdrew],” Curran said, “but it happens all time due to injuries and people getting hurt in training. In MMA, we train all aspects of the game and you just have to roll with it. I’m just glad they were able to find somebody on just a three-week notice. The funny thing is, I was training [for Yamauchi] and we decided to switch things up, and I actually trained some against [Sanchez at Roufousport], so it makes it pretty interesting. I feel confident about the fight, though I know it’s going to be a good one.”
When asked who got the better of the sparring rounds between him and Sanchez, Curran took the high road.
“They were good rounds,” he said. “It’s definitely going to make for an interesting and entertaining fight.”