Forget the fact that Pat Curran had lost his Bellator featherweight championship belt to Daniel Straus at Bellator 106 in November due to a lackluster performance. Forget that fact that his inexplicable immediate rematch at Bellator 112 meant 145-pound tournament winners Patricio Freire and Magomedrasul Khasbulaev would be passed over. And forget the fact that maybe Curran didn’t deserve to cut ahead of the line. All that mattered by the time the third meeting between Curran and Straus’  was underway was that they were absolutely clobbering each other – and it was awesome.

Friday night’s Bellator 112 saw the opening round of a welterweight tournament that was decimated by injury a week ago, and there were violent yet forgettable prelim matches galore. However, the headliner was all about a rematch between two top-level guys who knew each other well, and beat on each other savagely.

When they clashed as Bellator 106, Curran was his usual self, meaning that it took him a while to get his game going. This time was different. From the outset, the former champ was aggressive, and scored with his boxing and a takedown. Straus coped well with the change in tactic, and in the waning seconds of the round, came damn close with a pair of front chokes that had Curran struggling. Then Straus planted a fist square on his opponent’s eye and sent him falling to the canvas in Round 2, and the drama was ratcheted up by a thousand percent.

The two went back and forth throughout the rest of the fight, alternating between feeding each other leather, blasting each other with kicks, and threatening on the ground. It was close – damn close, as evidenced by the scorecard Bellator tweeted out after the fight (see below) – and then, almost miraculously, Curran found Straus’ back, fought for the choke, and at 4:46 of Round 5, got the tap out.

With the win, Curran is the new champ, and it was immediately announced that Pitbull was next in line. But if anything, Bellator 112 proved that Bellator has another Eddie Alvarez/Michael Chandler-esque rematch to call upon when it needs a main event. Hats off to Curran and Straus for giving their all.

Curran Straus scorecard