From where Pat Curran is sitting, it’s been a little hard to hear a former opponent and, realistically speaking, a coworker give less-than-glowing reviews of his time with the company.
Curran wants it known that Eddie Alvarez, the former Bellator MMA champion embroiled in an increasingly nasty court battle with the promotion, certainly doesn’t speak for him.
Of course, it needs to be noted that Curran is Bellator’s featherweight champion and coming off two successful defenses of his title in the promotion’s first season on Spike TV. Alvarez is an ex-champ who tested free agency, got an offer from the UFC and now has to sit on the sidelines while the courts decide if Bellator properly matched that deal – or if he’s free to leave.
Through it all, Alvarez has been increasingly vocal on Twitter and in the media that his employer hasn’t been honest in its dealings with him. And though the two sides have apparently talked, trying to come to some middle ground, it doesn’t appear that will be possible.
Curran realizes he’s in a much different position than Alvarez. Alvarez was a known commodity when he signed with Bellator as one of the sport’s best lightweights. He quickly became the company’s 155-pound champion before losing that title to Michael Chandler in November 2011. Curran, though, was relatively unknown when he took Bellator by storm, first winning a lightweight tournament to get a shot at Alvarez, then dropping to featherweight, winning that tourney and becoming champ.
Curran said it’s possible that Alvarez is on the offensive against Bellator in part because he doesn’t believe he owes the promotion much in the way of making him a star.
“I’m not really sure what’s going through his head or what he’s thinking, but I’m sure that has a huge role in what’s going on,” Curran told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “He was already an established fighter and one of the top fighters in the world, on top of the game (when he signed with Bellator). When I first came into Bellator, I was nobody and nobody expected anything from me. So there’s a big difference.”
Curran now finds himself in position to be one of the faces of Bellator MMA, along with fellow champions like Chandler and Ben Askren. And as such, there’s an instinct to go to bat for his employer, which thus far has been calm and civil in its responses to Alvarez’s verbal attacks.
“I feel like they’re a great organization to work for,” Curran said. “I started there from the beginning and where we’re at now, it’s night and day. They pretty much made me the fighter I am. I wouldn’t have gotten the exposure or the attention, and Bellator gave me that opportunity. Any negative feedback toward Bellator right now, I don’t like to hear it. Going over to Spike and being part of Viacom, Bellator is just doing great things and constantly getting better.”
In fact, Curran likes it there enough that he said he’s in the process of reworking his contract with the company. Curran (19-4 MMA, 9-1 BFC) awaits a title defense against Daniel Straus (21-4 MMA, 7-1 BFC), which he expects will come during fall’s Season 9 on Spike.
But with that downtime while Straus recovers from a broken hand and sorts out some legal issues, Curran figures the time might be right to iron out a new deal, even though he said he has two years on his existing deal.
So when it comes to seeing himself in a position down the road like Alvarez, with his deal done and ready to test the free-agent waters, Curran appears happy to make sure that’s not an issue for the foreseeable future.
“I can’t put myself in (Alvarez’s) position because I’m not there yet,” he said. “Bellator gave me the opportunity to re-sign and renegotiate the contract, and we’re in the process of renewing it. I’m talking to Bjorn personally and we’re coming up with a new deal. Other fighters are in a different situation than I am and would handle it differently. But I’m happy to be with Bellator – they’re taking great care of me and I have no issue re-signing a new contract.”
As far as Curran is concerned, Bellator’s move from MTV2 to Spike earlier this year helped turn the page for the company and took it from a good place for him to work to great – to the point of throwing out a current deal to stick around as a part of the team even longer. Bellator’s upcoming “Fight Master” reality competition has him excited, as well.
And perhaps Curran believes Alvarez might be missing out on some things thanks to his decision to leave and the subsequent fight it’s turned into.
“The first season (on Spike) was a huge success, and that’s just the first season,” he said. “We also have the reality show coming out, and a lot of other things in the works. We’re on Spike, and it’s only going to get better. I don’t see how it couldn’t.”
For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Pat Curran)