by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
He was an underdog when the Bellator Fighting Championships lightweight tournament started, but now Pat Curran is $100,000 richer and gets a shot at Eddie Alvarez later this year after defeating Toby Imada on Thursday night.

The young fighter first brought to prominence as a fighter on the TapouT reality show and nicknamed “Paddy Mike” by the crew, has grown up a lot in the last few weeks. Curran first hit the main stage when he defeated earlier tournament favorite Roger Huerta in his semifinal match-up, before moving on to face Imada this week.

Toby Imada, last year’s lightweight runner-up, held his own in the fight, but struggled to get Curran to the mat or keep him there on the few occasions he could get the Indian based fighter down. The fighters traded big shots early and often, making every round a tough call for the judges.

The third round may have been the only decisive round with Curran tagging Imada with a big left hook that opened Imada up, and a steady stream of blood began flowing over his eye. The round continued with more back and forth, but Imada looked like the more damaged fighter when it was over.

The judges scorecards all read 29-28, but two judges saw the fight go Pat Curran’s way and he was declared the winner by split decision, and is now the season 2 Bellator lightweight champion. Curran will now enjoy a little down time before being scheduled for a shot at current Bellator champion and top ten lightweight, Eddie Alvarez, later this year.

Top rated women’s star Megumi Fujii wasted no time showing her dominance in her Bellator debut, as she outworked and just out fought Sarah Schneider, before getting a third round stoppage by TKO. The Japanese based Fujii worked her takedowns flawlessly throughout the fight, moving in and out of Schneider’s guard.

In the third round, after a quick takedown from Fujii, she worked back to mount yet again and this time just began to reign down shots on Schneider and she had no answer, as the referee stepped in to stop the fight. Fujii will now await the start of the first ever Bellator women’s tournament, in which she will be a heavy favorite to take home the gold when it’s over.

The final fight on the televised card saw Mike Hayes win a fairly uninspired fight against Steve Banks by unanimous decision. Neither fighter looked overly aggressive during the bout, but in the end Hayes was able to work enough striking to pick up the win.