by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Jeff Curran had the opportunity to reach the most defining moment of his career when he contended for Urijah Faber’s World Extreme Cagefighting 145-pound division title earlier this month. Unfortunately, the “Big Frog” was defeated and his dream of wearing WEC gold was put on hold.
“I want to start out by saying thank you to all my friends, family and fans across the globe. First, for supporting me and having faith in me to go out and compete at this level time and time again. Second, for being here for me and showing that same unconditional support, even after this recent loss to Urijah,” said Curran.
“I want to say congrats to Urijah for doing what nobody has ever done (and will ever do again) to me in a fight. I wasn’t given a chance to speak in the cage after the bout, so I want to let everyone know that I respect Faber and thank him for a shot at his belt. I want to thank the WEC for putting me in the position they did to change my life and take my career to the next level. I want to say thanks to my manager, Monte Cox, for securing my opportunity at the belt and for looking after me and my future. I want to say thanks to my wife Sarah and baby Ty for granting me the space and freedom I needed to train properly for the fight with Urijah.”
In the second round of their championship fight, Faber caught Curran in a tight guillotine and the Illinois resident was forced to tap. He suffered the first submission loss of his long career.
“This is the first time I have ever been submitted in my entire career and my spirit is so hurt by it. I live for Jiu-Jitsu and feel like I let a lot of people down. I just want to apologize for that,” said Curran.
The former Shooto Americas Champion went further in detail regarding the moments leading up to end of the fight.
“After we clinched up, Faber went for a throw or sat back or something that put me on top. He tried to do a triangle with my leg in his guard and was able to get a few punches and elbows off. One landed on my nose, which caused a very nice cut that began to bleed immediately,” Curran recounted.
“As he sat up to turn position I took his back again, but ended up on my back while fighting for hooks. Doing this made the blood puddle in both eyes. I spent the rest of the round clearing blood from my eyes. It was burning pretty bad and I couldn’t see. That was the beginning of the end for me because that’s when I felt I should do something to show that I am fine and still in the game. I really needed to get to the rest period so my cut could be worked on and I could see again. I was feeling great regardless. As I went for the single leg, I simply held on too long. After Faber sat for the choke, my right arm ended up stuck between our legs. I had one arm to defend and that’s it.
“I was 100% prepared; mentally, physically and technically for this fight,” explained Curran. “My only regret would have been to go to a body lock or stay on my back for the last thirty seconds of the second round. I felt I should have turned the table and get a takedown or do something to let Urijah and the judges know I was still in the fight.”
Now that Curran has tasted defeat at the hands of Faber, does he think differently of his recent opponent?
“I actually think of Faber about the same as I did before the fight,” he revealed. “He wasn’t as rough as I thought he would be to be honest. He is definitely top level of the game, but I felt very comfortable the entire fight. I didn’t get a chance to see how his stand-up is and I think that is still his weakest area.”
Jens Pulver made a successful WEC debut with an impressive submission victory over Cub Swanson at the same event. A future title fight between Pulver and Faber seems very plausible and is considered by many to be inevitable.
“I think this is a great match-up,” commented Curran. “I have mixed feelings on it though. I want Jens to win because he is my friend and I want success for him. But on the other hand, Faber is on a tear and I would love another shot at him a few fights down the road. If he is going to be champ, he will have to face me again because I am not going anywhere. I feel that Jens is one of the few that can put Faber in his place though. If he sharp shoots him with that left hand, it’s lights out!”
He may be down, but he’s not out. Curran has worked hard throughout his career and has bounced back from previous losses. The “Big Frog” will be back.
“I am hoping I’ll be fighting in March/April or whenever the next WEC show is after the Feb. 13 show. I am healing up the cut above my nose and hitting the gym soon enough. It’s nice to take a break from the hard training and focus on some of my fighters, too. I will be teaching classes and training Nate Mohr for his Dec. 29 UFC fight against Manny Gamburyan. I will be back to full swing training after Jan. 6.
“I want everyone to know that I am down, but far from out. I will be back early 2008 and am coming for that belt one way or another. You can run, but you can’t hide.”