There is almost no doubt Bjorn Rebney wants to get his featherweight champion on the first Bellator pay-per-view.
The question is, if the Bellator CEO is able to book Pat Curran, who will he be fighting?
Rebney on Monday said Bellator’s Nov. 2 pay-per-view, which features a headliner between former UFC champions Quinton Jackson and Tito Ortiz, fighting in the company for the first time, can be expected to have a main card filled out with “a lot of title fights.”
“It will be along pay-per-view because we’re going to have some big title fights on this show,” Rebney said. “Obviously Curran’s got a couple defenses in the book right now. (Lightweight champion Michael) Chandler looked unbelievable. There’s a lot of meat on the bone in terms of title fights right now. … There will be a lot of world-title fights on that show – a lot of five-(round) fights on that show.”
Curran (19-4 MMA, 9-1 BMMA) most recently fought in April, so the timing would be good to have him defend his title for a third time on the pay-per-view, which takes place at Long Beach Arena in California.
There are two fighters lined up to fight for the featherweight strap. Daniel Straus (21-4 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) was slated to be next, but a broken hand and then an arrest and subsequent legal difficulties forced have kept him on the sidelines.
Magomedrasul Khasbulaev (21-5 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) won the Season 8 featherweight tournament, and like Shahbulat Shamhalaev before him could pass Straus in line and fight Curran if that’s something Bellator wants to book for the pay-per-view.
But Rebney still hopes Straus is ready – if not for the pay-per-view, reasonably soon afterward.
“There are still some limited restrictions on his travel ability, but we’re still trying to work through them,” Rebney told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “I was supportive of Daniel when it happened because he called me and manned up immediately. He was just like, ‘Look, I didn’t do what they said I did. I wasn’t in possession with intent to distribute – it wasn’t mine,’ and I believed him. I’ve known Daniel for a while, and I bought what he said. He’s always been a really straight shooter with us. We’ll see how that kind of plays itself out.”
Straus, an Ohio native, would have to travel to California if he fought Curran at Bellator 106. But the nature of his arrest and subsequent plea in Florida means simply going back to work for Bellator might not be as easy as it was before.
In fact, even if Bellator wants to book him for a spot other than the pay-per-view, it could be difficult.
“The limited travel restrictions are something we can probably get around from a legal perspective,” Rebney said. “It’s always a little bit chancy when you’re trying to book a major world title fight against a guy like Curran on a huge stage to have those restrictions there because you never know. Somebody at the (District Attorney’s) office could conceptually say, ‘Hey, we’ve made a decision based on our right to make it that he can’t travel.’ But if we can get past that comfortably and the legal team feels it makes sense, then we’ll book him.
“… I don’t want to get out of turn because I don’t have the (documents) right in front of me, but there are some approvals he has to obtain with the authorities in order to get on planes. That’s something our legal team would have to look through to see if we can book him. If he can, great – he’s a talented fighter and he’s always been fun to watch inside the Bellator cage.”
For now, though, Rebney said Straus, who hasn’t fought since October 2012, and who won the Season 6 featherweight tournament to get his shot at Curran in May 2012, continues to train and can be ready to go at any time.
“He won the tournament and everything kind of got put on hold while he went through the legal process,” Rebney said. “He’s not on home arrest, he’s definitely training and he’s been in contact with us that he’s training and he feels good. He’s ready to rock and roll.”
For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.
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