by Matt Lo Cascio
Pat Curran picked apart Patricio Pitbull over five rounds on Thursday night to successfully retain his Bellator featherweight title via split decision. Two judges scored it 48-47 for Curran (18-4), who was making the first defense of the title he took from Joe Warren in Indiana last year.
Curran started a bit slow against the challenger, but his pace and accuracy improved with each round. He used the first round like a radar, gathering information about his opponent and formulating a plan.
“He wont be baited. Pat Curran content to counterpunch so far,” said analyst Jimmy Smith. Smith gave the first round to Pitbull due to the Brazilian being the busier fighter.
The action picked up in round two with Curran getting the better of the exchanges. Curran landed a knee and Pitbull waved him on. Curran then landed a loud head kick on the side of Pitbull’s face, but Pitbull just smiled.
Still, the blows were connecting and Pitbull’s face was starting to swell and show damage. Blood started to drip from his nose with about 1:30 left in the second round, a round that was clearly won by the champion.
The third round was a bit of a stalemate with neither fighter doing much damage nor commanding the cage. Smith scored that round for Pitbull.
While Curran may have lost the third round, he was certainly the fresher fighter entering the championship rounds. It was the second time in Curran’s career going past the third round, having gone all five rounds in his lightweight championship bout with Eddie Alvarez in 2011. This was Pitbull’s first time past three rounds.
A Curran right hand stunned Pitbull with four minutes left in the fourth, and that seemed to ignite the champion. “I think that gave him some guts, he’s turning it on a little bit,” Smith said.
Turn it on he did. Curran increased his output and accurately battered the challenger, Pitbull’s face showing the damage. Pitbull was bleeding under the eyes and from his nose, and the swelling was disfiguring. Curran clearly had taken control of the bout, with Pitbull not only damaged but also showing signs of fatigue. Curran’s energy did not wane at all during the fight, and if anything it increased after he landed the right hand that changed the momentum of the bout.
Curran continued to land combos to both the body and head of Pitbull in the final round. Pitbull mounted a last-ditch effort near the end of the round, but Curran defended well and was never hurt.
Curran didn’t have too much to say in a post-fight interview with Smith. “I hope you guys enjoyed it — on to the next,” Curran said.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney wrapped the belt around Curran’s waist then offered some high praise for his champion. “Spectacular performance, you’re one of the greatest featherweights on the face of the earth.”