Pat Curran has invested his prize money in his craft. | Photo: Dave Mandel

Pat Curran has won two $100,000 Bellator tournament prizes.

What’s he doing with all that dough? Not much. He bought a used car, but other than that, he’s using the money to focus on MMA full time.

“Financially I’m able to put all of my time and focus into the gym now,” Curran said during a “Savage Dog Show” interview on the Sherdog Radio Network. “That’s what I wanted. That was my goal. It’s really helping me evolve as a fighter.”

Curran completed his first run through a Bellator tournament in 2010. He defeated Mike Ricci, Roger Huerta and Toby Imada to win the season two lightweight tournament. Then to capture the 2011 Summer Series featherweight field, he beat Luis Palomino, Ronnie Mann and Marlon Sandro. In both tournaments he won three fights in three successive months -- a difficult task, to say the least.

“You’ve got to be really smart with your game plan,” Curran explained. “You’ve got to be very cautious too because you don’t want to get an injury in the first round. If you go in there and have a war and come out with a broken nose or a cut, now you have to do a training camp with that injury and then go into that next round with that injury. That’s the worst part about the tournament format, but I really like the format because you stay busy. You’re active. You don’t have much of a break. I really think you evolve as a fighter. You really see your level jump through that whole training camp and throughout the fights.”

Curran’s progression to this point hit its peak when he knocked out Sandro with a fantastic head kick.

“I watched a lot of footage on him, especially his last two fights in the tournament,” Curran said. “When he gets in exchanges, he starts swinging really wild, throws really heavy shots, but his chin’s wide open in the air. He really exposes himself that way. Especially when he’s bobbing and weaving or slipping punches, his hands aren’t by his chin. … We did notice that in his previous fights, but especially in the first round of our fight, I did notice he was dropping his hands a lot. He wasn’t protecting himself very well. I ended it with that head kick. I just timed it perfectly.”

It was a signature finish for the 23-year-old, who has won seven of his last eight fights. Perhaps more importantly, by beating another quality opponent like Sandro, Curran has entered the discussion when it comes to the top featherweights in the world.

“I definitely see myself hanging with the top featherweights if not beating them,” he said. “I definitely believe that I’m top five, top 10 in the world. My goal is to be number one. I’m going to keep going until I’m the best.”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:21:00).

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