Bellator MMA is a mixed martial arts promotion that is often times on the wrong end of jokes within the MMA community. However, when the promotion takes the time to create a fight that features some of their most talented competitors, they are often awarded with a fight of the year candidate. Friday, March 14, 2014 gave us yet another example of how great matchmaking can occur outside of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Pat Curran and Daniel Straus meet for the third time in what is easily the most exciting bout between the pair.
Curran, who was once considered one of the “faces” of the promotion along side Michael Chandler, was looking to recover the title that Straus had snatched from him back at Bellator 106 this past November. In that fight, Daniel was clearly the better competitor of the two as he beat Pat in every facet of the fight. So much so, that many within the mixed martial arts community were upset when Bellator went with this fight rather than giving the recent featherweight tournament winner, Patricio Freire, his earned shot. Luckily for the promotion these two athletes truly delivered.
The fight was back and forth from start to finish. Curran came out of the gates quickly and took control of the early part of the fight. Straus tried to steal round one with a late D'arce choke, but majority of the fight community watching in the social sphere awarded the first round to Curran. Daniel would return the favor in round two when he would clip Curran, dropping him to the canvas. Straus tried to finish but Pat was able to cover up but the damage was already done.
Straus would implement his wrestling game in rounds three and four in the same fashion that allowed him to walk all over Pat in their second meeting. He was able to take Curran down multiple times, but never truly attempted to pass the guard. Still, he did enough that he was ahead on majority of the scorecards of people watching and commenting at home.
However, Pat Curran would not be denied. After a scramble in the fifth round would open up the opportunity to take Straus's back; he would do so and secure hooks. He crept his hand in for a rear naked choke as Daniel tried to press his opponent against the cage. They would remain in that position for a number of minutes as Curran looked desperately at the clock. Seconds ticked away and Straus would motion with a thumbs up to the referee. Curran would make one adjustment and that's when it occurred. With 14 seconds left in the fight, Pat was able to force Daniel to tap out to the rear naked choke. His last ditch effort was enough to earn him back the title that he won in 2012. The most touching moment came with the two fighters came together in the middle of the cage to celebrate a great fight.
Pat Curran versus Daniel Straus was the trilogy title fight that was tucked away into an action packed March. After watching the fight it seems as if the fans and media alike would be pleased to watch them go at it again for the fourth time. Much the same way that Michael Chandler versus Eddie Alvarez has become one of the best rivalries in the sport; it seems as if Bellator has another entry to add onto their list of surprise fights. Daniel Straus versus Pat Curran III will deserve to be listed among the best fights of the 2014.