Since his last fight in 2017, former Bellator featherweight champ Pat Curran has become a father, and there’s no doubt the experience has changed him for the better.
Chicago, IL — Former featherweight champ Pat Curran returns at Bellator 221, fighting for the first time since 2017. An extended layoff, in part due to injury, pressed pause on a three-fight win streak against some of the best in Bellator’s 145lb division.
Finally, however, Curran (23-7) is back, taking on undefeated ace A.J. McKee. “I feel incredible. I’m back,” Curran told Cageside Press during fight week.
He certainly is back, and he certainly isn’t getting any softballs in his return. McKee (13-0) is as dangerous as they come.
“Yeah of course. I can pick and choose who I want to fight. I accepted it for a reason,” Curran explained of the tough match-up. “I have a championship mindset. I’m not afraid of anybody. The champion can’t pick and choose who he fights. I have that mindset. I’m not going to say no to somebody because I had a long layoff, or he’s been knocking everybody out.” Curran, rather, is out to prove something. “I truly believe that I’m the best in this division, and I need to beat everybody they want to give me.”
The former champ has had some changes during his time away, he told us Thursday. “Changes happen, the older you get, the more mature you become. I have newfound motivation right now, I have a one year old son at home.”
The differences now are profound. “That completely changed up my whole training camp, schedule, and routine, because I’m not the priority anymore, he is. First thing I do when I wake up is take care of him. Then I take care of myself. So in that sense it’s changed a little bit, but it’s also given me a little more drive during this camp to push myself to be the best athlete I can.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s a similar sentiment to Cowboy Cerrone, currently known as Dad Cerrone. Curran feels he can do something similar to Cerrone, currently on a stellar run. “100%,” Curran agreed. “It happens to any father. Any time you have a son or daughter, it completely changes your whole life. It doesn’t happen right away, but it’s a process. I’ve been a father for a year now, that process is already taking place, and setting in.”
The end result for Curran is that “I’m as happy as I can [be], I love going home to my family, hanging out with my family.” Most importantly, he added later, “I’m in the right state mentally.”
Against A.J. McKee at Bellator 221, Curran feels that “the best case scenario would be a first round knockout. Go out, feel him out a little bit, clip him him with one hard shot that puts him out. Next thing you know, you go home with twice the payday, and you’re one step closer along in the division.”
“But that’s never the case. You never expect that to happen,” he cautioned. “You’re open to it, you know it’s going to happen as a possibility, but it’s always that shot that you don’t know [if] it’s going to land. So I’m always ready to go fifteen minutes, I’m always ready to go full distance, but I’m able to see that one shot that hurts him. If he doesn’t drop and I rock him, I’m going to be all over him.”
Bellator 221 takes place Saturday, May 11 at the AllState Arena in Chicago, IL. The card airs live on DAZN.