by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Jeff Curran looks to get back on the main stage when he headlines the local portion of Bellator 14 on Thursday night at the Chicago Theater. Curran was originally scheduled to face Joe Doherty, but the athletic commission wouldn’t approve the fight. Adrenaline MMA veteran Bryan Goldsby has been tapped as Doherty’s replacement.
“Basically there are a bunch of conservative people in the Chicago area making complaints about some of the matchmaking on the lower levels of the sport. Mainly the amateur levels I believe. So the state becomes the one that get hit with the negative publicity,” commented Curran. “I fought in Chicago my whole career so they know my style and my skill level for the most part. When they see a guy with 12 fights and then my 40-plus fights they decide to have less liability and find a higher level guy. Personally, I feel Doherty was a tough match, but the IDPR felt different.”
Bryan Goldsby is a veteran of the Midwest scene and has faced some stiff competition. Curran isn’t taking him lightly and is looking forward to the clash of styles.
“From what I have seen of Goldsby he has decent striking, he is long and good takedown defense. The last person I fought his size was in Pride Bushido against Hatsu Hioki. I am excited to re-challenge myself against a guy of this build and his strengths. I assume I have the better ground game, but you never know.”
Curran had one of the toughest fight schedules in the WEC facing the likes of Urijah Faber, Mike Brown, Joseph Benavidez, and Takeya Mizugaki in four consecutive matches. Unfortunately, the “Big Frog” did not see his hand raised once against the top ranked competitors. His fight against Mizugaki was very close, but the loss led to his WEC release. After picking up a couple wins, Curran is on the verge of returning the place where he feels is his rightful home.
“(WEC) wants three wins to bring me back,” revealed Curran. “So after I get through this I will be looking for my WEC return. I don’t think I should have ever been cut after that Mizugaki fight obviously, but I am not the boss.”
If Curran is successful on Thursday night, he could return to the WEC cage as early as June.
“The talk was as early as June in Edmonton, however, that is just ‘hearsay.’ There was some discussion as the type of opponent, but I think the landscape of the division has to play out more after the April 24 fight to see who is best for my return.”
Also on the Bellator 14 card is Patrick Curran, Jeff’s younger cousin, who will make his Bellator debut as the last participant named to the eight-man lightweight tournament. Pat is coming off a big win over former Cage Rage British champion Robbie Oliver.
“He is a featherweight, but put on weight and moved up to 155 where he began his career as an amateur,” said Jeff of his cousin. “He faces undefeated fighter Mike Ricci from Montreal. He is a training partner of GSP from what I hear and is the real deal. We hope he moves past round one then we go from there. He definitely has a chance to win this thing.”
In addition to training for his upcoming fight, Curran has been filming a documentary of his career.
“The documentary is a project of Proximo Entertainment and Prototype Advertising out of Virginia. They have told the real story about who I am as a fighter and show all the footage leading up to my second straight win since Mizugaki. It’s a character study of me I guess, but it’s one that is going to entice and excite fans of the sport and then some. It motivates me just watching the trailers of it. I can’t wait. I think the name of it is ‘Jeff Curran: This is the Fight.'”
“I helped with the title as I have that quote tattooed on mine and cousin Pat’s family crest,” added Curran. “It means that ‘THIS’ as in ‘LIFE’ and all the troubles we face along the road for a fight, inside and outside the cage, that is the real fight. That’s what it stands for and that’s what I believe in. Perseverance at its best.”
The WEC bantamweight division has seen a lot of change lately. Miguel Torres made three successful defenses of his belt before losing to Brian Bowles by knockout. Bowles was unable to defend his title against the unorthodox Dominick Cruz, suffering a second consecutive broken hand that ended a fight. Cruz was the dominant fighter during the two rounds leading to the injury stoppage.
“That’s what happens when you put that much talent in one room and keep them as active as they are. Someone goes down, someone goes up,” commented Curran on the recent division movements. ” It’s only natural in the sport of MMA. It’s not boxing. We aren’t protected like that as fighters. If we were, all of us would be boxing I guess. Everyone likes to rise to the challenge in this sport. It’s the type of people attracted to being MMA fighters.”
On Thursday night Jeff Curran has the opportunity to move back in the spotlight and begin another quest for the WEC gold that has eluded him.
“I want to thank all my fans, what little I have left these days (laughs). (Thanks) for believing in me, fighting for me, and staying with me through the roller coaster of my career. For making the sport what it is, for making my job worthwhile.”