Tuesday, December 11, 2007

WEC 31: Jeff Curran vs. Urijah Faber - Preview, Analysis, and Opinion

By Nathan Schafer

The Joint – Hard Rock Casino & Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada

WEC Featherweight Title Bout
Urijah Faber (19-1) (4-0) vs. Jeff Curran (28-8-1) (2-0)

Urijiah Faber has quickly become the face of the WEC and has quickly and definitively stopped every opponent that they have put in front of him. The WEC has dropped their strategy of pitting him against up and coming fighters who have done little to show they even belong in the same cage as him. With the signings of veteran fighters such as Jens Pulver and Jeff Curran, the WEC is showing that are want to bring in some higher level competition with extensive experience. Jeff Curran is widely considered a top ten featherweight and deserves this fight. He is a legend in our Midwest scene and has done a lot for many of our local fighters. It’s nice to see a guy that been around for 10+ years finally get some recognition and fight on national television.

Urijah Faber

Urijah “The California Kid” Faber is the current WEC Featherweight Champion. He has 19 wins, with his only loss coming from Tyson Griffin in September of 2005. He is a decorated collegiate wrestler and has also held titles in King Of The Cage and Gladiator Challenge organizations. In his last four fights none have gone into the second round. He is an explosive athlete with fast hands and dominant wrestling. Faber became the WEC Featherweight Champion with a win over Cole Escovedo due to corner stoppage at WEC 19 in March of 2006. He then compiled a four-fight win streak outside the organization prior to his return at WEC 25 in January wear he successfully defended his title against veteran Miletich fighter, Joe Pearson. His explosive takedowns and ground and pound forced a referee stoppage less than half way into the first round. Two months later at WEC 26 in March, Faber quickly dismantled then undefeated Dominic Cruz via guillotine choke in just over a minute and half. He showed the world he was in a completely different class than anybody the WEC had to offer. The WEC would look outside the organization and bring in another undefeated fighter to fight their rising superstar. The WEC chose a wrestler by the name of Chance Farrar to fight Faber at WEC 28 in June. The bout was a back and forth battle of scrambles for position but Faber used his submission game to quickly end the bout via rear naked choke three minutes into the fight. With Urijah Faber essentially cleaning out the division, it was clear that they could not continue to bring in up and coming fighters with little experience to fight their champion. Hence, we have the signings of Jeff “Big Frog” Curran and Jens “Lil Evil” Pulver.

Jeff Curran

Illinois native Jeff Curran has been a MMA fighter for over ten years. He has compiled a record of (28-8-1). He is widely considered a top ten featherweight in the world by many MMA writers and fans. In his long and storied career he has fought in many of the world’s top organization including the UFC, Pride, WEC, Superbrawl, and King Of The Cage. Curran holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Pedro Sauer and also runs a Jiu-Jitsu school in Crystal Lake, Illinois. He also is the owner of XFO, a regional MMA show that has produced many notable UFC and IFL fighters. Curran began his WEC career at WEC 4 in August of 2002 against Bao Quach. Curran won the fight via Majority Decision. He would not return to the WEC for another five years. At WEC 29 in August, Big Frog faced undefeated fighter Stephen Ledbetter. In an uninspiring bout, Ledbetter scored takedowns but was unable to do little with them. Late in the second round Curran managed to get a triangle choke applied but could not finish the bout. In the third round Curran got a top-side triangle choke that he used to strike Ledbetter. Claiming the third round, Curran was able to secure a unanimous decision victory. This is a pivotal moment in Curran’s career and it is also the first time in history that smaller fighters are getting any kind of national recognition


Normally I would predict some kind of 1st round submission victory or TKO finish if I knew Urijah Faber was fighting. His explosiveness is often simply too much to handle for most fighters. Jeff Curran however is not another up and coming fighter looking to make a name for himself. I think it crucial to keep in mind that Curran has not been stopped in a match since 2001. That being said, if Faber is not able to stop Curran early what will his cardio be like in the later championship rounds? Those rounds would be new territory that Faber has not ventured into yet. Curran is no stranger to going the distance and I believe he will be ready to go 5 solid rounds. I also feel that if Curran was not able to stop the takedowns of Ledbetter, he will not be able to stop Faber’s. With Curran being an old school Jiu-Jitsu fighter he is always willing to fight off of his back which is a place he is not going to want to be in against Faber. That is precisely where I see this fight going. Curran’s best chance to win is by triangle or guillotine choke. He’s not going to win a decision against the California Kid, but he won’t be stopped either. Prediction – Urijah Faber wins via unanimous decision after 5 rounds.

This article originally appeared on http://www.wicombatsports.com/ on 12-11-07

No comments: