Pat Curran is big on keeping busy. Now he’ll try something new to do it.
The Bellator MMA featherweight champion got two title defenses this past Season 8 – a split decision win over Patricio “Pitbull” Freire at Bellator 85 to open the season and a first-round submission over Shahbulat Shamhalaev at Bellator 95 to close it.
Curran (19-4 MMA, 9-1 BFC) awaits his next title defense against Daniel Straus (21-4 MMA, 7-1 BFC), but he doesn’t expect that to happen until the fall season. In the meantime, the Chicagoland-based fighter told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) he’ll try his hands at boxing.
“They’re letting me stay active, and this is something I really wanted to do,” Curran said. “They’re giving me the opportunity to go for it. We’re waiting on an opponent right now, but I want to stay active, I want to keep training, and since I’m going to have a little bit of a layoff, I want to jump into boxing and try that out.”
Curran recently told MMAjunkie.com he has a hard time understanding what’s going on with Eddie Alvarez, a former Bellator lightweight champ and Curran opponent who is embroiled in a bitter contract dispute with the company and hasn’t been shy about making his feelings known publicly.
Curran, who won the 145-pound title against Joe Warren in March 2012 after winning the featherweight tournament, is in such good standing with Bellator that though he said he has two years left on his existing deal, he’s in the process of reworking it with CEO Bjorn Rebney so he can stick around longer.
That the company is letting him make a run at boxing seems to be another reason he likes where he’s at.
“Bellator’s cool with it – they’re letting me step away from MMA and make my boxing debut, and that says a lot for them,” he said.
Curran said he expects his first match, which will be as a pro, to come sometime this summer, likely in Chicago. A date, location and opponent have not yet been signed.
Curran said if it was up to him, the boxing thing might not be an option. But Straus, who broke his hand in February, then was arrested several days later on traffic and drug charges, doesn’t appear to be able to be ready for one of Bellator’s three summer events.
“I would love to fight on the ‘Summer Series,’ but I believe you’ll see me again in the fall,” he said. “I honestly have no idea (when Straus will be ready). He had a broken hand and had been going through some legal issues, and I’m really not sure where he’s at right now, what his state of mind is or what Bellator’s thinking (for when the fight will be).”
After Straus, Magomedrasul Khasbulaev is next in line to challenge for the featherweight title. “Frodo” beat Mike Richman at Bellator 95 this past month, just before Curran submitted Shamhalaev.
Shamhalaev jumped the line ahead of Straus, who was Curran’s scheduled opponent. And if Straus still is not ready, it’s possible that Khasbulaev could do the same this fall to make sure Curran was defending his belt.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio) that he’d be open to doing four-man tournaments in the regular season just like it is doing on the upcoming “Summer Series.” Curran believes that would be beneficial for some of Bellator’s champions. But he’s not worried about needing it in the featherweight division just yet in order to expedite challengers at a quicker pace.
“I think it’s great, especially for the weight classes that aren’t getting as many title fights as they should,” he said. “In my situation, there are already two fighters in line for me. So I’m not really worried about the featherweight division with a four-man tournament. But I think it’s a great thing. You’re going to keep your champions busy, you’re going to keep title fights going. More title fights is better, and I definitely want to see more.
“The first season (on Spike), I had two title fights and was very active. So they’re getting me a little bit of a break and you’ll see me again in the fall.”
For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.