by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Jeff Curran recently singed with the WEC. He talks about the move and the 145-pound division in this EXCLUSIVE interview with MMAWeekly’s Al Yu.
MMAWeekly: What have you been up to Jeff?
Jeff Curran: A few weeks ago I fought in King of the Cage. Other than that, I’ve been pretty much doing normal training, teaching classes; I got right back into my weight training but nothing serious. Did a few workouts with Nate [Mohr]. Just kind of chilling out, catching up. I was still waiting on word from the WEC. I didn’t know where I was headed; I wasn’t going to fight for anybody else during the summer. I planned on having the summer off until about a week ago.
MMAWeekly: Congrats on signing with the WEC. The organization is definitely taking off under its new management. What do you think about the WEC’s potential?
Curran: I think the potential is no different than the UFC as long as they don’t put limits on it. If they always keep it as a ‘secondary’ show than it always has its limits. The UFC has attacked 100% with no limits and they take it to new heights every time. It’s just as good of an organization as the UFC as long as they don’t cap it off; especially if they start throwing fighters back and forth and mixing the two. To me it’s one big organization but to the fans it’s different.
MMAWeekly: There are rumors going around that the UFC might start a featherweight division of their own.
Curran: They have the power to do whatever they want now that I’m with them. If the UFC puts out the 145’ers and they [WEC] want to maybe take their top guys and move them into the UFC and build contenders, maybe that works. Or maybe they’re looking to test the waters at a lighter weight to see if it’s worth building in the UFC.
MMAWeekly: So your debut is expected to be in August?
Curran: That’s not official yet. We’ll know more soon. We’re going to sit back and wait a couple of days. They mentioned the month of August in the past.
MMAWeekly: Did they mention any names you may possibly face on your debut?
Curran: No names. I would like to fight Rani Yahya, who just beat [Mark] Hominick. I think I match up very well with him. It doesn’t matter who they really get me but he’s a good first fight and I want to knock him out of the mix right away.
MMAWeekly: It was revealed that former UFC Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver may move down to 145 after his fight with Penn. How well do you think he would do in the WEC?
Curran: Jens is going to do great at 145, no matter where he goes. He’s got to stick to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and not just to boxing. I think that’s been his downfall in a hand full of his losses. If he sticks to his old ways, he’s got a really good chance.
MMAWeekly: Jens seems to be stubborn at times. I think that was his downfall when he faced Gomi.
Curran: The thing with Jens is that he’s got that knockout power and he knows it. He wants to show it every time. Even full time boxers who have knockout power sometimes need to look at the fact that they’re not going to drop this guy and they need to box him a little bit. He’s goes out every time thinking he’s going to knock somebody out. When you do that, someone is going down.
MMAWeekly: Any chance you would fight Jens in the future?
Curran: I wouldn’t like to face him. He’s a friend of mine and we’re both managed by Monte [Cox]. We’ve worked out together and he’s been in my corner back when I fought Baret Yoshida. It’d be weird fighting him. At this point, if my best friend or my brother was at 145 in the WEC, I’m going to fight him because it’s my time to go after the belt; my time to fight the top guys. Whatever fate brings us I guess. It’d be an interesting fight. It would be one of the fights I guess everyone would enjoy but personally I don’t look forward to having to do it.
MMAWeekly: Antonio Carvalho, a former opponent of yours, recently defeated Hatsu Hioki. What are your thoughts on a possible rematch with “Pato”?
Curran: I beat him by a decision; I’d love to have a rematch. I lost to Hioki; obviously I’d love a rematch with him. All of these guys on the top tier…if you look at the results of who beat who, everyone has kind of beat everybody. I would love to fight in August and then fight in November against [Urijah] Faber for the belt; get the belt and then defend against someone like Carvalho or even Hioki if they can get him. That would be awesome.
MMAWeekly: Now that you’re in the WEC, do you ever see yourself fighting at 155 again?
Curran: I would probably fight at 155 if I made my home at 145 for a couple of years and I conquer the division. But if there are guys out there lingering that I had close fights with or guys that defeated me and I haven’t gone back to redeem myself, I definitely wouldn’t want to jump up and think bigger than I am. I can compete at the mid to upper levels of the 155 weight class but I don’t think I can compete with the top twenty guys.
I wouldn’t want to get in there against Nate Mohr. Look how he’s doing in the division so far, he’s a big, rough kid. He walks around at 175. My guy Bart [Palaszewski] from the IFL, there’s no way I want to fight these guys. Unless I really got a hold of them and got them down, I think I’d just get beat up [laughs]. I think that’s where Jens is at. He’s getting thrown around in training by bigger guys that are fighting in the same division.
MMAWeekly: Ok, I’m going to list off a few names and I would like to know your thoughts or opinions of the following fighters. Ready?
MMAWeekly: Mark Hominick.
Curran: I love Mark as a fighter. As a fan, I love watching him fight. As a trainer, I love training with him but he’s one-dimensional. He can’t keep going at this level where he’s at being one-dimensional. Like Chuck Liddell, one-dimensional. He doesn’t have a ground game. If he fought someone who can get him down and hold him down, he would have never been champion. He [Hominick] still needs to develop his ground game. If he can sprawl and stay standing, he’s good to go.
MMAWeekly: Rani Yahya.
Curran: I know his credentials as a grappler are phenomenal but when he’s getting punched, he’s going to perform differently. I was not impressed with his takedown ability or striking. He doesn’t look physically strong. Those are three things that are huge in the sport of MMA as opposed to grappling. As an MMA fighter, I’m not too impressed with him.
MMAWeekly: Cub Swanson.
Curran: I honestly don’t know much about him. I’ve heard good things about him but I don’t have a whole lot of comments about him until I’ve watched him fight.
MMAWeekly: Chance Farrar.
Curran: I was totally impressed by him. I thought Faber was in trouble.
MMAWeekly: Same here.
Curran: Next thing you know, he made a mistake. I think he’s got a lot of potential if he keeps going and keeps his head up. Right now, if I had to face him, I’d be way more worried about him than Faber. He looks like a better fighter to me.
MMAWeekly: Urijah Faber.
Curran: You can’t take anything away from him. You can’t be 19-1 by not knowing how to finish fights. He’s been in the spotlight since he’s started. Everybody is like ‘oh Faber, Faber, Faber’ and they think he’s the greatest thing in the world. I don’t think he’s been pushed, I don’t think he has fought somebody that can just push him to the limit in every way. He takes guys down and he dominates from the guard with elbows against guys who don’t know how to defend them. I’m impressed by him but I’m not overly impressed by him. I think he’s beatable and I look forward to the day to prove it. As a person, I think he’s soaking up the publicity a little bit; more than I would but that’s his role, that’s fine.
MMAWeekly: You received your BJJ black belt from Pedro Sauer. What’s it like training under him?
Curran: He’s old school, he’s not as attached to fighting as me. He’s the most technical guy I have ever met. I trained with so many Jiu-Jitsu guys when I was getting started. When I was 18 years old and met him, I was blown away. He took what I was doing for 2-3 years at that time and broke it down. He’s smart and very technical; he’s an honest straight up guy. That’s hard to find in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community.
MMAWeekly: You’re a pretty busy guy. Between training, fighting, boxing, running your own gym and promoting 3 different organizations, when do you find time for yourself and your family?
Curran: You know, it’s hard right now. I make it. I try to spend one night during the week and skip out early, let my staff run the gym. I try to bring my wife with me when I’m promoting shows. I try to spend as much time with her as I can. My baby isn’t even three months old yet and I feel like I miss him a lot. That’s my sacrifice. I sacrificed more when I was younger by not having a nice car or a nice house. I’m going to continue to grow with the sport. I’ve got to do it and my family supports it.
MMAWeekly: You’ve been fighting for quite some time. Has retirement ever crossed your mind?
Curran: I’ve never thought about retirement but I have set retirement goals for myself. For example, I’m just about to turn 30. I’m not going to fight any further than 40. That’s ten years away but I’m already ten years in. I don’t know if I can personally handle any more than that. I don’t think a fighter should have to. I’m not ready [to retire] yet.
MMAWeekly: When the day comes, are you going to continue running your gym and promoting?
Curran: Yes, I want to promote. We’re signing on some property in July; we’re going to build a 30,000 square foot training facility right in the same town. That’s a life long investment. That’s something I’m going to leave there for the kids to take over. I’m in it for the long haul. I’ve got a great gym, a great staff and a supportive family.
If you look at someone like [Urijah] Faber, he’s already successful and then he went and got help to open up a gym or whatever he did. That’s fine, kudos to him. For me, when no one knew what was happening with the sport, I went and put all of my eggs in one basket and started a little gym. I’ve moved my gym seven times, I’ve lost hundreds of students by moving from town to town. It’s been hard and I’ve done it my whole career. Maybe doing that has been the one little thing that’s gotten in the way from me being the world champion first as opposed to taking it from somebody like Faber.
MMAWeekly: That hard work builds character.
Curran: Yes. I want it more than anything now. I’ve got a supportive staff and I’ve got the gym rolling. I can setup camp anywhere in the country and get ready for a fight or I can stay right at home and work from my own gym and not have to answer a phone call.
MMAWeekly: Do you have anything else you would like to say to your fans at MMAWeekly?
Curran: Look out. It’s a great thing that the WEC is doing and thanks for the support. I definitely want to say thanks to my boxing coach [Doug Mango]. He puts away a lot of his personal time and travels with me everywhere. It’s hard on him because he’s a chiropractor. He gives up clients for a week just to be out to support us whether it’s me or a new guy. He needs a little bit of thanks there and also my sponsor Tapout. Tapout finally jumped on with me and they’re taking care of me and a bunch of other guys in the gym. It’s cool to finally get support from somebody like those guys.
MMAWeekly: Are we going to see you on an episode of Tapout?
Curran: Watch out for episode seven. It’s on Matt “Sunshine” Fiordirosa, he’s my fighter. You’ll see me on that episode for sure.