Pat Curran (17-4-0) vs. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (17-1-0)

Pat Curran is finally going to defend his featherweight title after a fractured orbital took him out of the game. His vision was actually gone for a brief period while his bones healed, and he has to hope that ring rust will not be a factor when he takes on Patricio Freire. Their fight is part of Bellator 85 – the Season Eight opener – which is set to take place in Irvine, CA, at the Bren Center. The event is headlined by another title fight between lightweight champion Michael Chandler and Season Six tournament winner Rick Hawn.

Curran is the only fighter in Bellator history to win tournaments at two different weight classes. He originally entered Bellator at 155 in the Season Two Lightweight Tournament. He knocked out future Ultimate Fighter runner-up Mike Ricci, upset former UFC fighter Roger Huerta, and took a close split decision to Toby Imada. When he took his title shot against Eddie Alvarez he was just outworked by the bigger fighter and lost a decision. A move down to 145 paid dividends, with Curran earning a submission over Luis Palomino and a head-kick knockout over Marlon Sandro, and heearned the 145-pound title by finishing former champion Joe Warren.

Now he takes on Freire, who earned his title shot by taking the Season Four Featherweight Tournament. This will be his second shot at the belt after losing to Warren in the Season Two featherweight final. This fight could be contested on the feet or the ground since both fighters have knockout power and a top-notch submission game. With five rounds to finish this fight, it would be surprising to see this go to the judges, as both fighters are very aggressive.

The Bottom Line:

Look for Freire to make this interesting, but for Curran’s more diverse striking attack to make the difference. Curran wins by third round TKO.