by Matt Lo Cascio
XFO 29 was an historic event for a few reasons. The event took place April 17, 2009, and featured the organization’s first female fight, with Buffalo Grove’s Felice “L’il Bulldog” Herrig dropping a split decision to Valerie Coolbaugh.
XFO 29 also featured the first fight between Pat Curran and Daniel Straus. The rematch comes Saturday night, with Curran’s Bellator featherweight title on the line.
Curran suffered his first professional loss to Indiana’s Darren Elkins at C3 a few months before the Straus fight. He came back from that just a month later to beat current UFC fighter Ramiro Hernandez Jr. at Adrenaline II, on a card that featured Pat Miletich, Ben Rothwell, Mike Ciesnolevicz, LC Davis and Chicago’s Mike Russow.
The Straus fight would be Curran’s fourth fight in just five months, with both the Elkins and Hernandez Jr. fights going the distance. It turned out to be significant not just because of the upcoming rematch, but also because that fight featured Curran’s first professional knockout.
by Matt Lo Cascio
Team Curran’s Cory Galloway dominated Jeff Bates at RFA 10 with an incredible display of boxing, including two left-hook liver shots that sent Bates to the mat in third round, where Galloway would finish him with a barrage of strikes.
Galloway hurt Bates several times throughout rounds one and two, and was ready to move in for the kill as round three began. He hurried to the center of the cage at the start of the round, resuming with a series of jabs. He connected with two powerful left hooks that stunned Bates. Tired of the beating, Bates telegraphed a shot that Galloway easily turned away.
Galloway then ducked under a slow jab from Bates, and came up on the other side with a devastating left hook that rattled Bates’ liver. Bates favored that side of his body as he backed up, but Galloway marched in, reloaded, and let the left hand go again, connecting in the same place. Bates crumpled to the mat and Galloway pounced. He let loose with hammer fists and what we counted as 48 unanswered punches before the ref stepped in to wave off the bout.
Bates remained on the ground for a while, his face a bloody mess and his body wracked from the damage of the consecutive liver shots.
Galloway confused Bates throughout the entire fight, using a creative array of strikes, the majority of them landing with precision and power.
In round two, a hard right hand from Galloway knocked Bates mouthpiece out. As Bates retreated, the ref stepped in to pause the action and allow Bates to recover it and put it back in. Galloway was ready to attack again, and didn’t look pleased when the ref stopped the action.
When action resumed, Bates immediately pushed Galloway up against the cage and converted on a double-leg takedown.
“Bates again, showing he does not want to stand up. He wants to get this thing to the ground,” analyst Pat Miletich said.
Bates couldn’t do anything with the takedown, and Galloway got to full guard, swiveling his hips in hopes of setting up an armbar, then utilizing a high guard to neutralize Bates. Eventually the ref broke the stalemate and stood the fighters up.
The fight restarted and Galloway continued to mix up his strikes. Straight left to the body. Crisp jab. Duck under a wild right hand from Bates and connect with a powerful left hook that drew roars from coaches Doug Mango and Jeff Curran. Another left to the body. The body shots were adding up and taking effect – Bates was slowing and his hands were dropping. Galloway took note.
Galloway took his time, but kept the pressure on. He laid a three-punch combo on Bates, then went back to the body. This was surgical. Left hook to the body that lands loudly. Another 3-2. Bates was seemingly paralyzed defensively, completely unsure of what Galloway would throw. A left hook to the jaw lands, and Bates adjusts his mouth several times. It was a completely dominant round for Galloway.
Between rounds, Miletich commented over the second round highlights. “Galloway staying crisp throughout this fight. A lot of people think that the jab doesn’t work in MMA. I beg to differ with you. Galloway showing that it works quite well.”
After the fight ended, Michael Schiavello commented that Galloway’s boxing was “a delight.” Indeed it was, and it moved him to 4-1 as a pro with an impressive win over a previously undefeated fighter.
UPDATE: XFO tweets that Herrig vs. LaVoy fight not approved by the state and has been canceled.
by Matt Lo Cascio
If we were to rewrite the old ‘sticks and stones’ comeback for the modern MMA fighter, it might go like this: “Lefts and rights may ruin my night, but Tweets will never hurt me.”
Felice Herrig and Amanda LaVoy have exchanged plenty of words leading up to their XFO Outdoor War fight on Saturday, including a lengthy Twitter feud about why the fight was moved to a K-1 style match instead of Muay Thai.
Psychological warfare is a handy tool for fighters, especially for the underdog. It can work if it racks the focus of your opponent and gets them to stray from their game plan. But the more probable outcome is that it serves as a stick that pokes a bear. The bear gets pissed off. You turn to run, but you’re in a cage with nowhere to go.
We’ll find out Saturday night which of these scenarios will take place. But while LaVoy was shooting Tweets at a semi-automatic pace the other day, Herrig let her manager and camp do the talking. She tweeted only about how her weight cut was going.
In other pro fights:
- Gilbert Grappling’s Rob Morrow takes on Team Curran and former “The Ultimate Fighter” contestant Mike Marrello.
- Team Curran’s Joey Diehl looks to build on his April win in the XFC against TFC and Ironheart Crown vet Wade Choate.
- Team No Comment’s Pedro Velasco battles Team Curran’s Vince Romandine, who is making his pro debut.
- Three-time Chicago Golden Gloves champ and Team Curran fighter Erick Correa takes on King of the Cage vet Aaron Ware in a heavyweight match.
- Midwest Training Center’s Oliver Vazquez looks for his first pro win after a very impressive local amateur career. He’ll take on Christian Reynoso.
MTC’s Pat “The Project” Hastings makes his pro debut Saturday night. He talks about the the “Outdoor War” in this video with MTC teammates Damian Norris and Oliver Vazquez.
Video of Team Curran’s Pat Curran vs. Shahbulat Shamhalaev at Bellator 95 for the featherweight title.
by Matt Lo Cascio
Pat Curran used the first half of round one in his title fight with Shahbulat Shamhalaev to size up his opponent and find his reach. The second half was all about the attack.
Just moments after Bellator analyst Jimmy Smith said that Curran was known to be a slow starter and uses his wrestling mainly for defense, Curran shot in on Shamhalaev and took him down. Curran first went for his back but switched up into a guillotine choke and dragged Shamhalaev into full guard. The choke was tight and Shamhalaev never tapped, but he did go to sleep. The end came at 2:38 of the first round, with Curran successfully defending his featherweight title for the second time.
The ‘next one’ will be a familiar face to Curran. “I can’t wait to face Daniel Straus in a rematch,” Curran said.
Curran and Straus did battle at XFO 29 in April, 2009, and Curran finished Straus for his first knockout as a pro. Curran had just six pro bouts under his belt at that time, Straus had just five.
The win over Shamhalaev was Curran’s fifth straight win, and his ninth in Bellator, the most of any fighter in Bellator history.
“Thanks for Shahbulat and taking the fight on short notice. This was a big opportunity for him and I thank him for stepping up to the fight. Thank you Bjorn and Bellator for keeping me busy in the cage and continuing to allow me to develop as a fighter,” Curran said.
by Matt Lo Cascio
It isn’t easy trying to rehab injuries, stay in fighting shape, own a gym, teach classes and coach pro and amateur fighters.
“I need a vacation,” Jeff Curran joked.
Curran has a lot on his plate these days, and that’s just how he likes it. There’s no slowing down for the 35-year-old, and he says he is finally healthy enough to get back in the cage. He will likely make his return, and flyweight debut, on May 18 for the XFO.
Curran couldn’t reveal his opponent, but he did tell us that the fighter had agreed to fight him on an earlier date, so he hopes to have an announcement soon. Curran was scheduled to fight Tachi Palace vet Dustin Ortiz at last year’s XFO Outdoor War but had to withdraw due to hand injuries. Ortiz has since signed with the RFA, so Curran will have a different opponent.
Meanwhile, Curran is getting four other Team Curran fighters ready for big fights, not to mention a number of fighters for XFO 47 on March 29.
One of those fighters is Bart Palaszewski, who will fight Cole Miller at the TUF 17 Finale on April 13. Palaszewski left the team for a spell, but he is back under the Team Curran banner.
“Bart is 100% with Team Curran,” Curran said. “We worked out some things that were long overdue and he is refocused with the team more than ever. I think Bart vs. Cole is an awesome match-up. Bart is hard to submit and a dangerous knockout fighter. Not to mention he has a solid submission game himself being a BJJ black belt under me.”
About a week before that fight is the Bellator featherweight championship match, where cousin Pat Curran will defend his title against Shahbulat Shamhalaev, who replaces the injured Daniel Straus. The training camp was thrown a curveball when Straus had to withdraw from the bout. Pat Curran’s first career knockout came against Straus back at XFO 29, but Jeff isn’t concerned about the change.
“I think it holds a different challenge than Straus, but it falls into our advantage and gives us a very good vision of a game-plan. Pat is ready to fight anyone they send us.”
Felice Herrig will fight Heather Clark in Tampa at Bellator 94, and Joey Diehl recently signed to fight Eric Moell on April 19 for the XFC on AXStv.
“We’re excited about Diehl’s fight. He was a replacement and gets a chance to prove he is who we all know he can be. March 28 – May 18 is action-packed busy with fights for Team Curran,” Curran said.
That much-needed vacation? It will have to wait.
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.”
Results from XFO 46 at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates on Saturday, November 17.
Danny Aguirre def. Matt Wikoff, armbar 2:41 rd. 1
Andre Feliciano def. Phil Williams via UD
Erick Correa vs. Lance Harvey – Correa def. Harvey – TKO -ref stoppage to strikes, 1:52, rd. 1
Ramy Daoud vs. Cody Osbourne- Daoud def. Osbourne, 5:00 rd. 1, doctor stoppage.
Jimmy Kim vs. Charlie Radtke (Team Curran)- Radtke def. Kim via triangle choke, 2:07, RD. 1
PJ Cajigas (Top Notch) vs. Lawrence Dunning (Team Curran) – Dunning def. Cajigas via tap- armbar, 2:17 rd. 1
XFO Lightweight Ammy Title: Victor Rodriguez (Undeground) vs. Brian Radtke (Team Curran) Radtke def. Rodriguez, 1:24 rd 3 RNC
Brian Akins vs. Nate Jennerman- Jennerman def. Akins via UD
Antoine Wiseman vs. David Williams- Williams def. Wiseman, 29-27 UD
Dante Patrick vs. Jim Overly- Patrick def. Overly, 2:03 rd 1 RNC
Patrick Shawn Ayers vs. Austin Lewis- Lewis def. Ayers, 1:10 rd 1 KO
Chris Gutierrez vs. Sam Horowitz- Gutierrez def. Horowitz via UD
Eric Price vs. Dan Hart- Hart def. Price, :45 of rd 3 tap- guillotine
Kevin Watkins vs. Pat Hastings- Hastings def. Watkins, arm triangle 1:14 of rd. 1
by Matt Lo Cascio
XFO 46 goes down tomorrow night at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, and as usual the event will feature some of the best up and coming pro fighters in the area. It will also mark the return of Adam “Polish Pitbull” Maciejewski.
Maciejewski is veteran of the local fight scene but has been inactive since 2009. He’s fought in Combat-Do, TFC, XFO and the IFL. He’ll get quite the “welcome back” from Serbia’s Miodrag Petkovich, who will be content to stand right in front of him and trade shots for three rounds.
Petkovich is getting up in years, but he’s fought some well-known fighters like Aleksander Emelianenko, Igor Pokrajac, James Thompson, Travis Fulton and Tim Hague. He’s had mixed results since coming to fight in Chicago, going 1-2. He bested Mike Marrello at XFO 42, while suffering losses to Ed Carpenter and Jake O’Brien.
In other fights, MTC’s Andre Feliciano will fight Team Curran’s Phil Williams. Feliciano beat Williams’ little brother to capture XFO’s amateur flyweight title at XFO 42. Now he’ll get big brother Phil as a pro.
XFO promoter Dan Lardy is stoked about this matchup. “Watch for Feliciano/Williams, I expect that to be fight of the night!” Check out the video preview of the Feliciano vs. Williams fight here.
Danny “The Assassin” Aguirre will look for his second straight win when he takes on Matt Wikoff. He was scheduled to fight C3, TFC and Ironheart Crown vet Wade Choate, but the switch was made today. Aguirre is not happy with the change. He tweeted: “Gotta love last minute opponent changes.. And weight class changes too. #unprofessional”.
Three-time Chicago Golden Gloves champ and Team Curran fighter Erick Correa will make his pro debut against Lance Harvey. Correa told the Crystal Lake Patch that he ruptured the a bicep tendon in his right arm in February, then dealt with a deep-tissue infection in his leg in September.
Here’s the rest of the pro card:
Adam Maciejewski vs Miodrag Petkovich
Daniel Aguirre vs Wade Choate
Phil Williams vs Andre Feliciano
Christian Reynoso vs Jeff Lavallee
Ramy Daoud vs Cody Osborne
Charlie Radtke vs Jimmy Kim
Erick Correa vs Lance Harvey
Lawrence Dunning vs PJ Cajigas
Damian Norris vs Jake Constant
by Matt Lo Cascio
Curran is offering a free Jiu-Jitsu seminar to benefit the Crystal Lake Food Pantry. “Help Fight Hunger” will take place December 1 at Team Curran MMA.
“People need help. The biggest problem with today is that people think all the major problems are worldly and forget we can make a huge difference by doing so little,” Curran said. “My wife taught me that. She volunteers her time to make people’s lives better all the time and I feel as students and practitioners of Jiu-Jitsu we have that power to do so.”
While the seminar is free, attendees are asked to make a minimum donation of $10 to the Crystal Lake Food Pantry.
“$10 is nothing to people who are fortunate enough to be able to afford lessons and a gi to train in,” Curran said. “So I want to ask everyone to donate $10. Last year I did a free seminar that brought in 138 people. It may be a little crowded, but it sure will be fun and great to make a difference in some people’s lives in the area around the holiday season.”
Curran is mostly known to fans of the sport as a fighter, having compiled over 50 professional fights since the late 90′s. He’s fought in the UFC, Strikeforce, PRIDE, Bellator, WEC and XFO. But he says Jiu-Jitsu is always first for him.
“I love to teach Jiu-Jitsu and being an ‘MMA’ guy, it is important for me to show the people out there that I am an advocate for Jiu-Jitsu first.”
The seminar will run from 10am to 1pm, and Curran expects the place to be even more packed than last year’s free seminar.
“It’s my way of saying thank you, Merry Christmas and God bless, all at once.”