This Saturday, Bellator 106 will air live and free on Spike T.V with a very stacked main card featuring three title fights. The first of the three title fights is a rematch of their lightweight fight back in 2009 between Pat Curran (19-4 MMA, 9-1 Bellator) and Daniel Straus (21-4 MMA, 7-1 Bellator) – but this time the featherweight title is on the line.
At the time of their first fight, both fighters were quite new to the sport of mixed martial arts. Straus with only a 4-2 record and Curran a 5-1 record. The fight ended by a perfectly timed right hook from Curran which knocked Straus unconscious in the second round, but in the first round Straus and Curran battled in an even clinch war exchanging short punches and knees for most of the duration.
Since then, Straus has focused on rounding out his game in mixed martial arts improving in all areas – his wrestling, striking, and grappling have all evolved, something Curran has commented on leading up to this fight. Curran, while being very well versed in submissions, has put a strong emphasis on his boxing as he has grown to love the stand up game of mixed martial arts.
Straus has earned himself a 17-1 record since his loss to Curran, only losing to top featherweight Patricio Freire by unanimous decision in the Season 4 Featherweight tournament final. Curran, since signing with Bellator as a lightweight in 2010 has only lost to Alvarez which resulted in him making the drop to featherweight were he has since gone undefeated, most recently being victorious over Shabhulat Shamhalaev and Patricio Freire.
Seven of his last ten victories have been by way of unanimous decision and with Curran having only ever been finished once in his career, it’s a pretty safe bet that the only way for Straus to win this one is to control the fight early and not allow Curran to have any space or find his rhythm. Much easier said than done for most, but Straus has shown an uncanny ability to impose his physicality on his opponents – an area where he had most of his success in their first fight until allowing Curran to keep his distance in the second round which resulted in him being knocked out.
For Curran, he has earned himself a wide variety of finished including knock out punches, kicks, and submissions including a Peruvian neck tie. Curran has many ways to take this fight out of the judges score cards and if the past is any sort of prologue, he should look to keep his distance and pick his shots from the outside and especially take advantage of his six inch reach advantage.
The implications of this fight are huge for both fighters. Curran wants to continue his legacy as one of the top featherweight fighters in the world and defend his belt for the third time while Straus wants to show that he’s improved more than Curran has and looks to remove the blemish on his record given to him by the champion. Needless to say that these two have been on a collision course since their first match.
Prediction: Pat Curran def. Daniel Straus via TKO in round 3.
I firmly believe that both fighters have improved drastically since their first fight, but I do not believe the outcome will be too far different. Straus will get this fight to the third this time around, likely winning the first round over Curran by implementing a strategy of taking away his range, closing the distance, and clinching with him against the fence. But much like in their first fight, I believe Curran’s ability to adapt will prove to be too much and he will find his range, keep his distance, and punish Straus every time he looks to make a move forward. With a six inch reach advantage, Curran will be able to pick his shots from the out side and circle away preventing much clinching. Come the third round, Curran will be much fresher and will find the knock out blow, likely another right hook, and finish the fight on top of Straus to retain his featherweight belt.