Originally posted on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 3/8/12

This Saturday, Bellator fighting championships kicks off their latest season with a fight you could legitimately call a "big deal".

No, I'm not talking about Bellator's fight to get on Spike TV, which we can safely say is going the full distance. I'm not talking about Bellator's court battle against the UFC, the only venue where a "judge's decision" and a "dramatic finish" can be the same thing.

No, I'm talking about Joe Warren vs. Pat Curran, for the Bellator 145-pound strap. What makes this fight interesting is that it represents a true clash of "homegrown" Bellator stars.

Ok, so that's not entirely true in Warren's case. The man was an accomplished Greco-Roman wrestler long before venturing into MMA, for one thing. He also cut his teeth in the Japanese DREAM promotion, most famously upsetting "Kid" Yamamoto back when he was considered a possible P4P entrant and not walking metaphor for the collapse of Japanese MMA. So "homegrown" might not be the best choice of words.

That being said, I'd still argue that Warren really established himself as a star while competing in Bellator. He won the promotion's featherweight title, and made a run at the 135 pound crown, as well. That didn't work out so well for him, but regardless of that setback you really can't argue that Warren's had a good run in Bellator for a guy with only nine professional fights.

Pat Curran, on the other hand, is Bellator's biggest homemade talent, a fighter who rose from obscurity to contender status to elite level while competing for the promotion. He won the season two lightweight tournament, only to fall against Eddie Alvarez in a tough fight. Unbowed, Curran dropped a weight class, entered the Bellator summer series featherweight tournament, and became the first guy in Bellator history to win tournaments at two different weight classes (ironically the same goal Warren tried and failed to achieve).

This has all the makings of a fun fight and is the very definition of a "win-win" for Bellator. If Joe Warren wins, you can continue to cultivate a fighter who's akin to a 145-pound Chael Sonnen, both in style, tanacity, and prediliction towards the controversial. Ok, so he's not going to insult Lance Armstrong or quote pro-wrestlers anytime soon, but Warren has had his moments of controversy. He also has that personality - brash, smirking confidence - that you either love, or love to hate. He's the perfect guy for Bellator to build their brand around.

If Pat Curran wins, you get a champion who came up in your promotion, has a long (for Bellator, at least) relationship with the fans, and has a fantastic highlight reel. Seriously, it's not many 145'ers who can turn guys lights out with the style and panache of Curran. He's the opposite of Warren in that he's polite, laid back, and mostly respectful - but this can also be a good thing promotionally. Fans love to cheer, and they love to boo. Pat Curran could set himself up for a long run as someone fans love to cheer for (assuming he hasn't already) with this win.

So who do I see taking it?

Well folks, I'm going to go ahead and out myself as one biased mofo here. That's because I'm a big Pat Curran fan, for all the wrong (or is that right?) reasons. One of my first ever live MMA event coverage gigs was Bellator 21, the season two lightweight tourney final that pitted Pat Curran against Toby Imada. After the event, myself and the photographer somehow managed to tag along with the victorious Curran and his entourage for a fun night of drinking, fight talk, and insanity.

So yeah, I'm a big Pat Curran mark.

Luckily, there's more going for him here than simply having had a beer with me a year and a half ago. Since dropping to featherweight, Curran has looked better and better in every fight. He put away Luis Palomino with a Peruvian necktie (I'm also a sucker for obscure, low-use submissions), took a comfortable decision over Ronnie Mann, and looked like a 145-pound Mirko Cro Cop when he headkick KO'ed Marlon Sandro this past August.

But Warren is extremely dangerous, and underestimating him has been a bad move for past opponents. Despite coming off a loss, Warren has that combination of world-class skillset and plenty of grit that could be a problem for ANY potential opponent. Curran has never faced a grappler on the level of Joe Warren, so this fight will be an excellent test of his takedown defence and ability to scramble from the bottom.

I have a feeling this fight's outcome will be decided by who takes over in the first few minutes. Will the brash wrestler find redemption and climb back atop the Bellator mountain? Or is Friday, March 9 the day when Pat Curran finally pays off two years of promise, and straps a Bellator title around his waist.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best and worst from NBA All-Star Saturday night

WATCH: Klay Thompson can't go home unless he beats Steph Curry in 3-Point contest

Star players are hurting Houston Rockets

Emmitt Smith: Adrian Peterson only current player who could break rushing record

Coach K gets buzzer-beater win over Virginia for his birthday

Baylor approves new measures to deal with sexual assault


Joe Mauer: Concussions blurred vision, affected hitting

LeBron James says Kevin Love-Celtics trade rumor is false

Michael Jordan gifts Kobe Bryant full set of Air Jordans

Bethune-Cookman football player killed at party

Former UFC heavyweight Kevin Randleman dead at 44

WATCH: Chelsea scores three goals in less than 20 minutes

LaVine, Gordon put on best NBA dunk contest in years

WATCH: Thompson beats teammate Curry in 3-point contest

NFL teams, players hand out awesome Valentines

Earl Campbell ‘disappointed’ in Johnny Manziel, wants to help

Big man Karl-Anthony Towns wins NBA skills challenge

MLB commish: Cubs will host All-Star Game in near future

WATCH: Memphis forward recreates Vince Carter's elbow dunk in game

Bruins forward is goal scoring machine after suspension

Michael Jordan gives Kobe Bryant complete set of Air Jordans

Drake has Kentucky edition of custom ‘OVO’ Air Jordan 8s

QUIZ: Name every NBA All-Star Game MVP

Watch rare footage of Stephen Curry from 2001-02 emerges

Check out this custom camouflage Oregon helmet

MMA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker