by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At tonight’s IFL event in Moline, Illinois, two fighters coming from two very different places will be headlining in the evening’s Superfight. On one hand you have up-and-comer wrestling prodigy Kevin “Bad Boy” English, on the other you have MMA vet and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wizard Jeff “The Frog” Curran.
Curran, 10-year veteran who has fought in nearly ever major MMA promotion in the world, will be looking to continue his current three-fight winning streak, and further establish himself as a serious contender in the lower weight classes.
During final preparations for his match Saturday against Kevin English, Jeff spoke to MMAWeekly about making his IFL debut, his current PRIDE contract situation, and what it means to him to be part of the Midwest MMA uprising.
MMAWeekly: Right off the bat Jeff, tell us how you feel heading into your IFL Superfight this weekend in Moline, Illinois.
Jeff Curran: I feel real good. The training’s been really good and I’ve been wanting to fight for the IFL for a while, just because a lot of my friends fight for the [Quad Cities] Silverbacks.
My guy Bart Palaszewski is their lightweight and it’s been a while since we’ve fought on the same card. So it’s cool, I finally get to go and fight on the show. I’ve attended a few of them and it’s a good time, so I’m looking forward to it.
MMAWeekly: You’re going to be fighting Kevin English, a product of the US National Olympic Wrestling Program. What are your thoughts on facing this youngster, who is looking to make his mark against a veteran like yourself?
Jeff Curran: Well, I think right now that there’s very few people, 145’ers or lightweights even, that I’m going to get a shot at that either I’m taking a step up or they’re taking a step up. You kind of got to take what you get.
If he wants to use me as a stepping stone or maybe a chance to catapult his career, that’s good for him, but it’s not going to be easy. He’s not going to have an easy walk through the fight, that’s for sure.
MMAWeekly: What kind of strategy will you employ against someone whose emphasis is on wrestling and groundwork?
Jeff Curran: I don’t know, I’m not thinking he’s going to want to stand-up with me, but if he does, that’s really good for me. If the fight goes to the ground, I’m not worried about him. I’ve fought so many guys that are strong wrestlers or strong jiu-jitsu guys, even black belts. I’m pretty confident in my game, and if he wants to try to play the ground game with me, I think I have the advantage.
At the same time, it’s a fight and anything can happen. I’m sure he’s going to bring a lot of pressure, be strong and ground ‘n pound me. But if there’s one thing I can do in a fight, it’s survive and not take a lot of punishment. So it’s going to be hard for him to pound me out and get me to give up or screw up my own game because of it.
MMAWeekly: The Illinois area and Midwest region have really become a hotbed for big time MMA over the past few years, with the IFL and UFC coming in. How do you feel having been a part of that growth and expansion into major league MMA?
Jeff Curran: Just across the board, I look at fighters on the teams out here in the Midwest and they’re guys that made their name on my shows or through my gym. One way or another I’m connected to it. Behind the scenes, not a lot of people get to see it, but I am a big part of MMA developing in the area, and I’m happy about it.
I’m not just going to be a promoter or a trainer, I’m hoping that the work has paid off enough that when the UFC comes through or the IFL keeps coming through, I’m going to be considered for getting myself and my students on the cards and getting good fights.
I’m making a living off of promoting small shows, and so is a good friend of mine that’s partnered up with me. My students are getting good, fair shots at getting on good cards and moving onto bigger things as they progress. It’s good overall for the area, for sure.
MMAWeekly: Last time we spoke you were still contractually obligated to PRIDE, and they were recently purchased by the Fertitta brothers, the owners of the UFC. Do you know what the status is of that PRIDE contract is now with the buyout?
Jeff Curran: Well, I’ve got two fights left with PRIDE and so far I haven’t heard a peep about it. We’re actually trying to come up with a way right now, since Zuffa [the parent company of the UFC] is involved, of kind of getting a discharge from PRIDE and maybe be able to keep my contract and switch it to the WEC, getting over there and fight at the 145lb weight class and get a shot at their 145 belt.
So that’s kind of the plan right now. If they don’t come up with something soon, I guess I’ll have to fulfill my two fights left in PRIDE. But hopefully we can work something out and I can jump over to the WEC, keep the money the same, and help that organization.
MMAWeekly: It sounds like you’d like to go back down to 145lbs for good, is that the plan?
Jeff Curran: If I could do that, in a perfect world, that’s what I’d like to do. I feel better at 145, I feel like I’m not giving up a lot. Every fight at 155 it feels like I’m giving up something, whether it be reach, height, or just a little bit and size and strength. Now the past four months or so, actually ever since my fight in PRIDE, I’ve been trying to put the weight on and I’m getting used to being bigger, being a little stronger.
I’m fighting tonight at the 155 weight class, and I was 165 all last week, coming down from 170, I bulked up a little bit. I don’t feel as fast or as good, but now that I’m getting down closer to 155, I’m starting to feel more myself. So I should do fine at 155.
If I can sign at 145 with the WEC and get my name built there a little bit, I think me and [WEC 145lb Champion Urijah] Faber would make a real good title fight that a lot of people would like to see if he continues to hold his belt, which I don’t see anyone taking it from him any time soon. It could all work out pretty good. Of course, that’s the weight class I’d like to stay at.
MMAWeekly: Sounds good Jeff. Thanks for taking time out for us, it’s always appreciated. Is there anything you’d like to say in conclusion?
Jeff Curran: Just a general thank you to everybody for paying attention to my career, and continuing to support MMA here in the Midwest. It should be a good show on Saturday night, so come on out and check it out.
He [Kevin English] seems confident, but it’s a five-rounder. I’ve done six rounds of boxing, I’ve done 20 minutes straight time limits before, so I don’t know how he’ll feel come fourth or fifth round, but I think I’ll be ready to rock if he makes it that far.