(Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran | Photo by Getty)
Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran has accomplished a lot in a relatively short period of time. In less than six years as a professional, Curran has beaten world champs, UFC veterans and won in multiple weight classes.
His progress seems even more prodigious when you realize that Curran’s MMA career pretty much started around the time he first began training. Growing up, Curran wrestled for only a few years and knew next to nothing about MMA despite growing up in a hotbed of the sport in Southern Florida.
“I got into wrestling in my sophomore year of high school so I was only in it for three years but I feel in love with it. I got obsessed over it,” Curran tells Cagewriter.
“After high school, though, I was drained from cutting weight. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I went to school to become a fire fighter and a paramedic but my cousin [UFC veteran] Jeff [ Curran] always wanted me to move up to Chicago to give MMA shot. It took a couple years of him prodding but I started thinking that I should do this. I didn’t want to regret not taking a chance and I wanted a change in my life. I was 20 years old and I was pretty much flying into it blind. I didn’t know what to expect.”
What Curran got was tough training and lots of hard work to support his new fighter lifestyle. The young fighter did whatever he could to support himself as he logged hours learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, striking and wrestling.
“I trained full time and worked part time jobs. First, I got a job in construction, pouring concrete. Then I got into bar backing, did a little bartending and bouncing at nights. My most recent job was in HVAC. I was doing that full time and then would go to the gym at night. I’d go home exhausted and wake up and do it all over again. I just kept the big picture in my head, of what I wanted in the long run, and I kept working.”
Pat says that his cousin Jeff has been invaluable in keeping him focused with solid advice.
“Absolutely,” he says.
“He’s been in the sport for almost two decades and he’s ten years older than me. It was great having him, being a younger fighter who didn’t know anything. He guided me in the right way and helped me mentally by putting good thoughts into my head and helped me stay motivated and focused.”
Now, Curran’s full-time job is training and fighting for Bellator. His next bout comes Saturday night against featherweight tournament winner Daniel Straus.
He was supposed to fight Straus once before and so the challenger has been in and out of Curran’s mind a bit recently. The champion says that finally getting to fight someone who he had begun to prepare for before doesn’t do anything in particular to his mindset.
Straus is a well-rounded grinder, according to Curran, and this is just another tough fight to try and come through with a victory. “It doesn’t really make a difference that I had started to prepare for him before,” Curran says.
“I was preparing for him the first time and then he broke his hand. That was about 5 weeks notice and wasn’t too close to my fight to affect training camp. Either way, I knew I’d be fighting Straus at some point. He won the tournament and earned the right to fight for the title.”
Curran says he’s prepared for any type of fight against Straus. “Paddy Mike” has found success on his feet with his powerful striking but admits that grappling comes much easier to him.
“I definitely want to say striking is a lot more difficult for me,” he says.
“There’s something about it, though. I love working hard and seeing myself get better, developing my hands. That was one part of my game that when I started off I considered a weakness so I put more focus on striking.”
Curran fell in love with wrestling as a late-blooming high school student and then with striking as a young fighter, seemingly for the same reason – they were hard. Really, Curran seems to be a sucker for hard work.
So far, it has paid off. MMA has taken him exactly where he hoped it would and Curran is intent on continuing his progress to maintain the success he’s achieved.
“In the end, this was always my goal - to live comfortably and make a good living off fighting,” Curran says.
“I’ve gotten to that point and I want to keep it going.”
Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda