Pat Curran and Daniel Straus put on an entertaining battle in their trilogy bout at Bellator 112, and it was Curran regaining his featherweight title in the most dramatic of fashions. Straus, who had taken the belt against Curran last November, saw his brief title run end in his very first defense, as he was submitted in the fifth and final round. Curran, the former 145-pound champion, was able to get his belt back by finishing Straus via rear-naked choke with just 14 seconds remaining in the fight.
Curran started well in the opening round, landing some strikes and a takedown against the defending champion, but was fighting off a choke attempt as the round came to a conclusion. Straus upped his game in Round 2, landing a solid left hand that rocked Curran, sending him to the canvas and drawing some blood around his right eye. Both men had their moments in Round 3 and Round 4, but it seemed as though Straus was the busier of the two fighters and might have been up on the scorecards.
Everything would change in the final stanza. Curran felt he might have needed a finish and came out in aggressive fashion. Surprisingly, heading into the final round, Strauss was up on one scorecard, Curran on another while the other judge had it a draw. The former champ showed plenty of resolve in the final round of the fight, as he was able to take Straus down with less than 90 seconds left. He took Straus’ back and continued to work on a rear-naked choke that finally forced Straus to tap at the 4:46 mark.
While many people were rightly critical of the organization’s decision to grant Curran an immediate rematch after his loss to Straus at Bellator 106, thus avoiding the rigours of the tournament format, it turned out to be an exciting contest. Both men are very evenly matched and their respect levels for one another was quite apparent. Curran picked up the 20th victory of his career, and the now two-time Bellator champion redeemed himself after a lackluster effort against Straus in their prior meeting. Straus gave a solid account of himself and will no doubt be hungry to get back to the top after seeing his six-fight win streak come to an end.
Patricio Freire, who was furious at being bypassed in favor of Curran after winning Bellator’s Season 9 featherweight tournament, will be next up for the new champion. That matchup also has the potential to produce some drama and fireworks. Curran defeated Freire via split decision in a featherweight title clash back at Bellator 85 and no doubt “Pitbull” will be chomping at the bit to get his revenge when they meet again.