MMA Odds and Ends for Tuesday: Bellator Books Straus/Curran Trilogy…But Why?

Pat Curran The rubber match that no one wanted. Bellator MMA yesterday announced that Daniel Straus’ first title defence of the Bellator featherweight championship will come against the man he just beat for the belt two months ago, Pat Curran. The two will tango at Bellator 112, which takes place March 14 in Hammond, IN. My first question is: why? This fight makes absolutely no sense, and in the last 24 hours it’s been heavily criticized by both fans and media alike. Although Curran did make two title defences, over Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Shahbulat Shamhalaev, it’s not like he was a long-reigning champion in the vein of Anderson Silva and deserved an immediate title shot. And don’t forget, the fight with Straus at Bellator 106 wasn’t close — it was a blowout for Straus in every possible way. Yes, Bellator introduced a rematch clause last year where a former champion wouldn’t have to go through a tournament in order to get a rematch with the new champion, but I feel like Bellator is exploiting that here. That rule was for fights like Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez which were insanely competitive and which the fans craved a rematch for, not for a fight like Straus vs. Curran which was a complete domination by one fighter. If Bellator had no other featherweight contenders at the moment, then perhaps this Curran/Straus fight would make sense. But they have two tournament winners from 2013 sitting on the sidelines: Frodo Khasbulaev, and “Pitbull.” In Khasbulaev’s case, he’s reportedly having some visa issues so it makes sense that he’s not getting his crack at the belt. But “Pitbull” is completely healthy and wanted to fight Straus for the title — and he deserved the chance to fight for it right now, not to wait for Curran to get another shot before him. In fact, “Pitbull” is so upset with Bellator’s decision that he told “if Bellator doesn’t in (him), they should let (him) go.” And that’s definitely not something Bellator wants, as “Pitbull” is arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter on their roster. For his part, Straus — the champion — took to his own personal Facebook page to speak his mind: “My perception is that Bellator wants him as champ so bad not only does he get immediate rematch but gets it in his hometown damn near.” It seems like the only person who actually likes this rematch is Curran, who is rumored to have refused entry into another tournament to earn another title shot. If that rumor is true, and so far there’s been no confirmation of it from either Curran or Bellator MMA, then Bellator should have just released him from his contract for refusing to fight. I really admire Curran as a fighter, but I feel like he is getting opportunities in Bellator that other fighters wouldn’t get, and I really feel like “Pitbull” has been entirely screwed by this whole process. I also feel like Bellator has taken yet another negative PR hit, and as a promotion that already has a poor reputation amongst fans and media, they really didn’t need this heading into season 10. But only Bellator can blame themselves for this mess.

Written by Adam Martin.

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