LONG BEACH, Calif. -- It's been a roller-coaster ride for Daniel Straus in 2013. From a broken hand in training for an April title shot at Pat Curran to a well-documented March arrest, the Cincinnati native has been through a turbulent year.
But Saturday night at Long Beach Arena, it all became moot. Straus showed a mature and disciplined game -- and overcame a huge illegal knee -- to grind down Curran and claim his Bellator featherweight title in an upset.
Judges' scores were 49-45, 48-46, and 48-46 in favor of the new champion.
Straus set the tone in round one, taking the action to the champ. From crisp striking to solid clinch work, he never let Curran get untracked.
Curran responded in round two and appeared to be ready to turn things up in round three. Then came a fight-changing illegal knee from Curran to Straus, which landed flush to the head while Straus had a knee on the ground.
Straus was cleared to continue by the cageside doctor, and Curran was docked a point by referee Jason Herzog.
When the fight continued, though, Curran was the one who look flustered. Straus seemed energized and scored an almost immediate takedown, then dominated the rest of the round.
Straus continued his strong technical work in the fourth round, neutralizing Curran in the clinch and picking his spots with effective striking. In the fifth, although it was apparent Curran (19-5) needed a finish, Straus was the more aggressive one, landing nasty kicks and darting in and out and landing combos.
The victory avenged a 2009 knockout loss in the XFO pmotion. Since losing to Curran, Straus has won 18 of 19 fights.
"Pat Curran is a tough dude," said Straus (22-4). "I will see him again. I know it."