MMA: Why Pat Curran Is the Most Dangerous Featherweight Not in the UFC

Rob TatumContributor IMarch 13, 2012

Pat Curran (Sherdog)
Pat Curran (Sherdog)

Two tournament titles and the Bellator featherweight championship: that's quite the impressive resume for newly crowned champion Pat Curran.

What makes these accolades even more impressive is the fact that he's only 24 years old.

After running ragged through the Bellator Season Two Lightweight Tournament, Curran fell short against top-ranked Eddie Alvarez in his first quest for a belt. That decision loss prompted Curran to drop to the featherweight division, and he hasn't looked back.

Curran topped a number of big names as he captured the 145-pound Bellator Summer Series Tournament crown, including former Sengoku champion Marlon Sandro and well-rounded Brit Ronnie Mann.

But he wasn't done there.

Utilizing his size advantage and his ever-evolving striking attack, Curran refused to succumb to Joe Warren's Olympic-level wrestling in their title tilt. Following a pair of closely-contested rounds, Curran unloaded on Warren and scored a devastating third-round knockout to claim Bellator gold.

Having accomplished so much so quickly, the question must be posed: where does Curran go from here?

The answer is nowhere. Curran will be the new poster boy of the promotion with Bellator's ironclad contracts preventing him from signing with the UFC.

His first defense will come against Brazilian Patricio "Pitbull" Freire, another featherweight tournament winner. However, should he get past that challenge, few remain for him outside of the UFC.

Curran's mix of solid grappling, scrambling ability and powerful striking make him a dangerous opponent for anyone. Now he'll have to get used to having a target on his back.

Rob Tatum is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. You can also find Rob’s work at The MMA Corner. For anything related to MMA, follow him on Twitter.