Former 155-pound tournament winner faces former Sengoku champ in tournament finale next month
Pat Curran really seems to like the Bellator tournament format. For the second time, the Florida native now based in Crystal Lake, Illinois has advanced to the finals of one of the organization’s single elimination events.
First, he won his way through to a title shot at Eddie Alvarez in the second Bellator lightweight tournament. Last night, the 23-year-old Curran punched his ticket to the finals in the 145 pound featherweight bracket with a unanimous decision win over Ronnie Mann at Bellator 47.
Curran, who seemingly came out of nowhere to win the 155 pound tournament with victories over Mike Ricci, Roger Huerta and Toby Imada last year, showed why he feels featherweight is the right fit for him. Over the full 15 minutes, Curran controlled the tempo of the fight with his long jab and a plethora of quick flying knee strikes. The explosive Mann could never find his rhythm, kept off balance by Curran’s ability to land and avoid repeatedly.
While the victory should push Curran into the featherweight top 25, his opponent in the finals is a mainstay in the top 10 and the man most pegged as the favorite heading into the three-month, three-fight tournament.
Former Sengoku featherweight champion Marlon Sandro advanced to the finals as well on Saturday night, using a steady diet of stiff jabs and counter hooks to batter Argentine BJJ expert Nazareno Malegarie. All three judges scored the fight 30-27 in favor of Sandro.
Though he hasn’t shown the explosive knockout power that made him famous in Japan, Sandro has exhibited great timing, reflexes, and striking over his first two wins in the Bellator cage. Malegarie never came close to bringing Sandro to the ground, his lightning quick sprawl keeping the fight on the feet throughout. Every time Malegarie waded in to close the distance, Sandro stuck a crisp 1-2 in his face, reminding him why he’s been the favorite to take home the $100,000 victor’s check since his participation was announced.
Former IFL standout Chris Horodecki had a successful Bellator debut on Saturday night in front of the partisan crowd at Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario. The London, Ontario native took home a unanimous decision victory over Chris Saunders after controlling the action throughout the fight. It was the Team Tompkins product’s second win since being released by Zuffa back in December.
In the most entertaining fight of the night, heavyweight Neil Grove earned a first round TKO over TUF 10 alum Zak Jensen after the two went blow-for-blow from the word “go.” Grove, a finalist in the first Bellator heavyweight tournament and former UFC competitor, has earned all 11 of his wins by some form of knockout.
The event was originally scheduled to be headlined by a featherweight title fight between champion Joe Warren and Season Four tournament winner Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. It was to be a rematch of their close first meeting in the Season Two tournament finals, a bout which Warren won by split decision before coming back to finish Joe Soto and claim the 145 pound belt three months later.
Unfortunately, Freire broke his foot in early July and was forced from the card. The rematch is tentatively scheduled to take place this fall when Warren will also compete in the 135 pound bantamweight tournament.
The featherweight finals are set to take place on Saturday, August 20 when Bellator 48 returns to The Mohegan Sun Casino Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut and are available on MTV2 and The Score.