Two different generations of fighters will collide this Saturday night (October 29, 2011) on the UFC 137 main card as Jeff Curran, a veteran of nearly 50 professional fights, takes on "Young Guns" Scott Jorgensen.
For Curran, it was UFC or nothing. He'd given the ultimatum after a victory this past May that he would either fight for the UFC again or he'd retire. He got his wish and he'll be making his Octagon return for the first time since losing a decision to Matt Serra at lightweight in 2004.
Scott Jorgensen was on a roll in the bantamweight division before getting "dominated" by Dominick Cruz in the final WEC event ever late last year. The former Boise State wrestler got back on track with a first round knockout over prospect Ken Stone and he's looking to add a big veteran name to his hit list.
Can Curran regain some former glory with a tremendous upset win? Will Jorgensen continue his slow ride back to the top of the bantamweight division? What does each fighter have to do to be victorious on Saturday night?
Let's find out
Record: 33-13-1 overall, 0-1 in the UFC
How he got here: Jeff Curran has been fighting professionally for nearly 14 years now. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Pedro Sauer, he was one of the original fighters to seamlessly blend wrestling and jiu-jitsu in MMA. On top of maintaining a successful mixed martial arts career, "Big Frog" also owns his own gym in Chicago and promotes his own MMA events in the area, the XFO.
Curran has fought a who's who of the lighter fighters throughout his long career. He's been matched up with everyone from American stars like Urijah Faber and Mike Brown to Japanese greats like Hatsu Hioki and Norifumi Yamamoto to top Brazilians Wagnney Fabiano and Raphael Assuncao.
Curran famously had a crazy tough run in the WEC where he faced four consecutive champions, former champions or title challengers in a row, losing all four before getting his walking papers. Even a drop to bantamweight couldn't help the Chicago native.
Outside of the major organizations, Curran has gone 4-1 in the last two years fighting at smaller shows. His sole loss was a thrilling back and forth battle with Bellator bantamweight Bryan Goldsby. Knowing he was in the golden years of his career, Curran stated that if he couldn't get a fight with the UFC, he was going to retire. Thankfully Joe Silva called him up with an invite back into the big show.
How he gets it done: Jeff Curran is all about the ground. Nearly all of his wins are from using his wrestling and jiu-jitsu to control and/or submit his opponents. The "Big Frog" can be very tricky, especially if he's on top. He can overwhelm his opponents there, grind them out with short ground and pound and he does a very good job of staying attached if they turn away from the punishment.
The Team Curran owner is a decent striker, but most of his stand-up is about surprise before he can get the fight either to the clinch or on the ground. Expect to see anything from kicks to superman punches as he tries whatever it takes to close the distance and get away from Jorgensen's power.
If Curran can't take "Young Guns" down, he's going to have some trouble. He might try to grind this fight out, make it ugly along the fence. Perhaps he can use some of that "old man's strength" to stifle some of the Idahoan's attack.
Record: 12-4 overall, 1-0 in the UFC
How he got here: Scotty Jorgensen was a successful wrestler in college, competing in Division I at Boise State and he transitioned to mixed martial arts in 2006. In just his sixth professional bout, he was competing in the WEC at bantamweight.
"Young Guns" wasn't given the easy rode either, getting thrown to the likes of Damacio Page, Kenji Osawa and Antonio Banuelos in three of his first four WEC bouts. His controversial split decision loss to Banuelos lit a fire under him and he reeled off five consecutive victories to earn a title shot against champion Dominick Cruz in the final WEC event ever late last year.
Jorgensen was a step slow against Cruz and was beaten to the punch badly over the course of five rounds, losing a dominant unanimous decision. He got back on track against Ken Stone in his last bout, knocking American Top Team fighter out cold from within his full guard on the ground.
Jorgensen accepted a fight with the seasoned Curran as he looked to build his way back up to the top of the bantamweight ranks.
How he gets it done: Jorgensen is not the fastest guy in the division by a long shot, but he makes up for it with power. If he can connect with a big punch, your lights will go out and if he lock up your neck with a guillotine choke like his brutal finish against Chad George last year.
Jorgensen is also patient in the stand-up, he doe a good job of sitting back and striking when openings are available rather than forcing the issue. When his opponents get too aggressive in the stand-up realm, he's also got that solid wrestling in his back pocket where he can shoot in and put an opponent on their back.
Jeff Curran is a pretty good wrestler but he's been susceptible to takedowns in the past and Jorgensen is competent enough on the ground to be able to control him there and land strikes without getting submitted.
Expect to see Jorgensen stand with Curran as long as he feels he's got the advantage there. He probably would prefer to just showcase his striking for three full rounds if he can get away with it but if the veteran overcommits to anything, he'll also likely be going for a ride and getting blasted to the canvas with a power double.
Fight "X-Factor:" The X-Factor for this fight is the stakes for both men. At 34 years old, Jeff Curran knows this is his last shot in a major organization. There's a very high probability that "Big Frog" fights like he has nothing to lose, because that's the truth. He knows he doesn't have a lot of time left to make one last impact in the division so don't be surprised if he comes out guns blazing. I'm sure he would rather go out on his shield if he had the choice.
Scott Jorgensen, on the other hand, has a ton to lose. He's expected to win, he's younger, stronger and significantly higher ranked in the division. There's a lot more pressure on "Young Guns" to win this fight. How he responds to that press
Bottom Line: This fight could be many things. Depending on what Curran's got left, it could be an exciting back and forth war, or it could be a one-sided beatdown. There's a possibility for both. There's also the chance that this could get ugly as that's probably the best method for Curran to win the fight. It's definitely a wildcard, so brace yourself for anything. Both men have been notoriously hard to finish as of late, with neither getting stopped in nearly four years so it's likely heading to the judges.
Who will come out on top at UFC 137? Tell us your predictions in the comments below?