Fresh off regaining his Bellator title, top-ranked MMA featherweight Pat Curran will face Patricio Freire once again in a long-awaited rematch.
As reported by Combate and MMAFighting.com on Saturday, Curran vs. Freire II will take place on Sept. 5 at Bellator 123, marking one of the best 145-pound bouts outside of the UFC ranks. Only one other fight for the card has been set so far, with former UFC fighter James Irvin (17-10) taking on an opponent 10 years younger in prospect Brennan Ward (9-2).
Curran (20-5) and “Pitbull” Freire (21-2) previously faced each other in January 2013 during Bellator’s first-ever live television card on Spike TV, where Curran edged out Freire by a split decision to win Bellator’s Featherweight Championship for the first time. Curran lost and regained the title after trading wins against Daniel Straus (22-5), avenging his unanimous decision loss with a fifth-round, rear-naked choke submission victory. Out of Bellator’s top 145-pounders, Freire has been the busiest and most successful since his loss to Curran. Not only did Pitbull win the Bellator Season 9 featherweight tournament, but he won with three KO/TKO finishes on a 4-0 run, including victories over former Strikeforce fighter Justin Wilcox and ex-UFC contender Diego Nunes.
But what’s most interesting about this is the timing of the card. Not only does Bellator 123 take place on the same day as UFC Fight Night 50, but both events will also be held in Connecticut roughly 10 miles apart from each other.
While that’s great for MMA fans in the New England area, it’ll notably force a TV ratings showdown between the two promotions. That could be bad news for Spike TV and Bellator, since the cancellation of UFC 176 has actually made UFC Fight Night 50 a much, much stronger card overall:
• Gegard Mousasi vs. Ronaldo Souza
• Alistair Overeem vs. Ben Rothwell
• Charles Oliveira vs. Nik Lentz
• Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Chiesa
• Matt Mitrione vs. Derrick Lewis
While there’s not a ton of big-name star power on the line-up, it’s a stacked card that features six top-ranked UFC fighters, not to mention exciting-on-paper bouts filing out the rest of the schedule. Anything that Bellator does will be hard-pressed to match that kind of depth, even with the presence of their featherweight champion bout.