Pat Curran was on quite the roll when he stepped in to defend his Bellator featherweight title against Daniel Straus at Bellator 106 back in November. The former lightweight was on a six-fight win streak, and had already successfully defended his belt twice since dethroning Joe Warren back at Bellator 60.
That run would come to a halt, as Straus would best him via unanimous decision to become the new featherweight champion, Curran's first loss since dropping a decision to Eddie Alvarez in the lightweight title fight at Bellator 39. The 26-year-old fighter is not one to make excuses, but he did admit to some having some non-MMA related issues during the camp leading up to his clash with Straus.
"Part of me kind of felt burnt out," Curran told MMAmania.com, while in New York for the Bellator Season 10 production day. "The last six years I devoted my whole life to training. I've been extremely dedicated and focused and there has been a lot of stress behind the scenes. I think it all kind of hit me at the same time. Leading into a fight is stressful enough. You add stress on top of that and it's not good for a fighter. Definitely felt burnt out leading into that fight, but, also, Straus was on his game. He was very motivated and very determined and he is an extremely talented fighter and athlete. I'm not taking anything away from him, he had a great fight that night."
When taking a glance at the former champion's fighting resume, being burnt out is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Since entering his first Bellator fight and tournament in April of 2010, Curran has fought 11 times in a little over three years. That is a pretty busy and active schedule. After losing the featherweight title to Straus, he took some much needed personal time to figure out his future.
"I took about three weeks off," Curran said. "I was at the point where I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I was pretty burnt out and I just wanted to step away and relax and not worry about training or getting better. I really wasn't sure. Three or four weeks after that I went to the gym and just trained like a madman and I got that fire and that itch again."
Luckily for Curran, he can take that fire and motivation right into an immediate rematch with Straus, rather than having to enter another tournament. Since the fight was officially announced, many have taken issue with Curran being given another chance against Strauss, especially Season 9 featherweight tournament winner Patricio Friere, who had to enter another tournament after losing a title fight to Curran in Season 8 (story here).
This interview with the quiet and reserved fighter took place prior to the rematch announcement, so obviously he couldn't give a reaction to Friere's comments. He was admittedly "very excited" and through his expression you could tell how appreciative he was for the opportunity.
"Bellator is going out of their way and doing me a huge favor giving me a rematch, so I am happy and grateful for that," Curran said. "If I don't have to go through another tournament, I'm not going to say no to that. They are giving me a rematch, I'm not going to turn it down."
There isn't a fighter on the roster who would turn down a chance at dodging the bullet knows as Bellator's usual path to a title shot. It's grueling, and exhausting on fighters both mentally and physically. They have to maintain their weight for an extended period of time and never get a full chance to heal up between each fight.
Curran has been through two tournaments.
The last tournament he entered -- the 2011 Summer Series -- was only two months after making it through the Season 2 tournament and losing the title fight to Alvarez. Before facing Warren for the featherweight title, he fought seven fights and went through two tournaments in less than a year and a half. It's probably safe to say he knows just how difficult they really are.
"Going through a tournament, three fights in three months, is pretty rough," he said. "At the same time, it makes you a better fighter. You can look at it as a bad thing or a good thing at the same time. They threw the rematch at me right away so I'm going to take that, but if I had to go through another tournament I would, but it's just where I'm at right now."