With Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran out with an injury, a sticky situation is developing in the promotion's 145 pound division.
Patricio ""Pitbull" Freire is already slated to get the first crack at the champion, but he won the season four tournament over a year ago, being passed over for a title shot by Curran in the first place after a series of injuries himself.
To top it off? Bellator is already starting it's next featherweight tournament this September when eight new challengers will vie for $100,000 and a shot of their own.
That's some serious bottlenecking at the top of the division.
Straus started a campaign to battle the healthy "Pitbull" for an interim belt or at least to whittle down the title contenders earlier today, but Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney was quick to respond to the situation, offering his honest assessment and shutting down an interim title fight at Bellator 73 on just eight days' notice.
See exactly what he had to say to Bloody Elbow Radio after the jump.
Bjorn Rebney: Daniel's a warrior at the very, very highest level of this game. He's go the absolute heart of a line. He made his name in this game by fighting nine times in a year and he's the kind of guy that would take a fight on super, super short notice. I've got way too much respect for Daniel Straus to give him eight days' notice to face a top ranked featherweight in the world. It's not fair to him.
If you asked Daniel to fight Junior dos Santos on a couple days' notice, he'd probably take the fight but that's not a fair situation to put a guy who's worked as hard as he has in even though he has heart and belief in himself would tell him that he can do a fight like that. It's just not reasonable. Pitbull is one of the best featherweights in the world and we've got to sit back, take some time and figure out what the next orchestration will be.
God bless him but his heart is just too big and it doesn't make sense to push a guy who's earned that $100,000 tournament and deserves a legitimate shot at the world title, to force feed him a short notice fight like that when he hasn't been in intensive training and hasn't been reviewing film. That's just doing a disservice to a really, really solid guy who's a great spokesmen to our game.
Bjorn Rebney: Well, you know it could. The reality is right now we've got two world title fights. It wasn't a bad situation for us to have Curran fighting Pitbull for the world title, two of the top-ranked featherweights in the world, and Straus would get the winner. At this point, Pat Curran broke his orbital bone. He trains smart, but these things happen. Occasionally the right kind of shot hits you the right way and it's horribly unfortunate. It's bad for Pat and for everyone involved.
We'll see how quick Pat can rehab off this injury and it's typically not a quick rehab. An orbital bone rehab can be upwards of three months. We're gonna have to get a little bit more data, see how serious the break is and then make a decision as to what we're gonna do next and how quickly we can do it because you're right. We could find ourselves in a position where you've got Straus waiting for his world title shot and the winner of this fall's tournament on MTV 2 waiting for his world title shot. It could get a little backlogged but that's the nature of the beast.
Matt Bishop: Is Pitbull completely off the card next week?
Bjorn Rebney: Yeah, he's off the card.
Matt Bishop: Like you said, the orbital bone is a pretty tricky injury. Could we still see an interim title shot between Daniel Straus and Patricio Pitbull down the line in season seven?
Bjorn Rebney: That's a great question and a few people have posed it to me as to whether or not we could do that. In essence, when you win a tournament, you win three fights and you earn a shot at the world title. So the question becomes, is a shot at the interim title still a world title shot or is it really just another tournament fight to determine who gets that true world title fight? It presents some logistics issues that we would have to work through. I think what it boils down to is how quickly Pat is going to be able to come back from this injury.
Like you said, they're tough injuries to come back from and in some instances, I've seen orbital injuries that you've been able to rehab quicker off of but we really need to get a better understanding of what's going on with Pat, then we can finally make that decision. If it's gonna be an elongated process, that's something we'll probably look at through clearer glasses and we might look at some other alternatives.
Bellator 73 will air live next Friday night from Tunica, Mississippi and it will feature the Summer Series light heavyweight tournament final and the season six bantamweight tournament final.
Do you agree with Rebney's current assessment on the status of the featherweight division? If Pat Curran does not come back quickly enough, what's your take on a potential interim featherweight title fight?