These days, the Chicago-area fighter still trains with Jeff, but he's carved out an identity on his own merits: both as the only fighter to win Bellator tournaments in multiple weights classes and as the face of the company's featherweight division.
"Everything falls into place," Curran (17-4) said. "Everything happens for a reason."
Curran signed with Bellator in 2010 and didn't take long to acclimate to the rigors of the company's tournament format. He injured a knee training for the Season Two lightweight tournament, but still went through with three fights in just under two months.
"It's something I wasn't used to, something I've never done before," said Curran. "Going into the first lightweight tournament, I wasn't fortunate, I had a pretty serious knee injury a month out from the fight. My main thing was, I had a knee injury, so I tried not to get too much damage done to my leg."
Curran made things easier on himself in the first tourney fight by knocking out Mike Ricci in the first round. Then he grinded his way to decisions over Roger Huerta and Toby Imada to claim his first tourney crown.
"It was fortunate enough to knock out Mike Ricci in the first round, keep it standing with Roger Huerta and most of the time keep it standing with Toby Imada," he said. "Injuries happen, and you just have to push through them."
But Curran ran into a roadblock when he lost his shot at then-champion Eddie Alvarez by decision. Faced with a fork in the road, Curran decided to try his hand at featherweight, a spot at which he fought earlier in his career. It's a decision he hasn't regretted.
"I did have a successful run, at lightweight and maybe I'd go back again if I had the right opportunity," said the 24-year-old Curran. "In the back of my mind, I thought I could always go back to 145 and see what happened. The opportunity was there. Someone dropped out of the tournament, it was a chance to be on TV, so I took it."
The move paid off as Curran blitzed through three opponents last summer, capped off with a TKO finish of Marlon Sandro in front of Curran's hometown fans in suburban Chicago. That was followed with what many considered an upset knockout win over Joe Warren to claim the featherweight title in March, Curran's eighth victory in just over two years.
Curran didn't getting much time to savor his title win, though, as he's already got his next two opponents lined up. The champ will defend his title against Patricio "Pitbull" Freire at Bellator 73 on Aug. 24. If he gets past Freire, Season Six tournament winner Daniel Straus is up next.
"He's a very well-rounded fighter," Curran said of Freire. "I'm just going to stick to my same game plan: keep my hands high, protect myself, look for my power shots, and you know, just out-strike him on the feet. If it goes to the ground, I'm ready, I know he's a black belt. I'll just try keep it in my game, keep the fight where I want it.
"I have the opportunity to fight ‘Pitbull' and I have Straus already lined up if I win, so I have two fights I can possibly get in before the new year. They're keeping me busy."
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