On Thursday night, Bellator's new era begins with their Spike TV debut. It's a loaded show, with two world title fights plus the Bellator debut of Babalu Sobral. But the fight that most interests me is the one they have chosen to kick off the Spike era - Pat Curran vs. Patricio Pitbull Freire in Curran's first defense of the Bellator Featherweight title.
As they say, styles make fights, and this is a stylistic dream match. Both men are excellent stand-up artists, though in very different ways. Where Pitbull favors a more Brazilian Muay Thai style from the Chute Boxe mode, Curran has quietly developed into one of the most interesting technical strikers out of the US today. It's those striking skills that have made Curran a must watch fighter right now, and his last two fights - a picture perfect head kick KO of the highly ranked Marlon Sandro and a brutal beatdown of Bellator champion Joe Warren - demonstrated that perfectly.
Sadly, it's been nearly a year since that title win over Warren. And so, to remind fans what to expect from Pat Curran, take a look back at this Bloody Elbow Judo Chop collaboration between myself, Dallas Winston, and Jack Slack, breaking down Curran's stand-up skills:
One of the aspects that makes Curran a distinctly specialized martial artist is that he's a three-dimensional fighter with legit striking, wrestling and submission grappling. This diverse foundation allows for some of the best technical defense in MMA. His exemplary takedown defense was on display against the likes of Alvarez, Imada and Greco Roman wrestling standout Joe Warren. Though this trait typically keeps him upright and moving of his own volition, the rare instances in which we've seen Curran's guard have been promising, as he's been able to initiate a scramble to escape back to his feet or unveil a high-caliber submission game.
From a defensive perspective, where Curran really shines with subtle brilliance is with his striking defense, intelligent movement and timing.
Much more in the full Judo Chop.
And of course, lest you think Curran is just about the striking, let's look back to one more of his classic moments - the Peruvian Necktie submission finish of Luis Palomino, this time courtesy of Kid Nate and Patrick Tenney:
In one of the most appropriate submission wins ever Pat Curran pulled off a peruvian necktie choke... on a Peruvian, Luis Palomino at Bellator 46. The peruvian necktie is a variation on the standard head and arm style chokes (the arm triangle, anaconda choke, d'arce choke, arm in guillotine, etc) that utilizes a perpendicular body positioning along with downward pressure from the lower body onto the opponents back while applying upward/constricting pressure with the upper body to the opponents trapped arm and neck; these opposing pressures once secured are the basis for an incredibly tight and exceedingly uncomfortable choking experience for the chokee.
Will Curran turn in another Judo Chop worthy highlight reel performance on Thursday night? Join us here at Bloody Elbow for live Bellator coverage to find out.