It’s that time once again: another major MMA event has come and gone, and it’s time for my unofficial “Best Performance of the Night” award. Bellator 48 was a bit of a tough event to call, since we saw some pretty crazy finishes. The main event was by far the craziest, but that had something to do with the fact that the fighter that won was down on the scorecards before a brilliant head kick punched his ticket to a shot at the gold. Nevertheless, I feel the nature of the knockout and the fact that he was holding his own compels me to award Pat Curran with “Best Performance of the Night” at Bellator 48. Here why.
Let’s begin as we always do: by putting the situation into context.
Before his awesome runs in Bellator, Pat Curran held a respectable 10-3 record but was mostly known as the cousin of Jeff Curran, who was much more well-known thanks to his fights in PRIDE FC, Strikeforce, the WEC, and even the UFC. But Curran put the entire Bellator roster on notice when he debuted, winning by first-round knockout. From there, the rest is history: with a series of heartfelt performances that saw him go toe-to-toe with the likes of Roger Huerta and Toby Imada, Curran fully emerged out of the shadow of his cousin and became a legitimate threat to Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez.
Alvarez would ultimately end up spoiling Curran’s Cinderella story, but Curran responded by fighting just two months after going five full rounds, and at a lower weight class. Curran fought to the finals of Bellator’s “Summer Series”, beating Luis Palomino with a beautiful Peruvian Necktie before beating Ronnie Mann by decision.
His opponent, Marlon Sandro, was a pretty big name on the underground and was well on his way to becoming a major Bellator star. Sandro entered Bellator with a great 17-2 record, and was a former Featherweight Champion in the Japanese-based Sengoku organization. Sandro would display his fiery power as well as his great striking skills in a pair of tough decision victories, beating first Genair da Silva and then Nazareno Malegarie.
When the fight began, it was clear that Marlon Sandro was the better tactical, technical striker. His shots landed more often, and they did more damage. Towards the end of the fight, Sandro’s superior speed and dodging abilities had really begun to widen the gap between the two men. In all likelihood, Curran would have been down two rounds to none going into the third round. But there would be no third round.
With one bad movement, the fight was over. One moment, Sandro dodged to one side when he should’ve dodged to the other. The next moment, a thunderous kick echoed throughout the arena. The next moment, Marlon Sandro was lying on the floor. And the final moment after that, Curran was being pried off of Sandro’s limp body.
Some people may say that a come-from-behind victory shouldn’t qualify for an award like this, but I’m giving this award exactly because of this being a comeback victory. Pat Curran never gave up, he never lost hope, and he always stayed active. He made a series of small mistakes, and I’m sure he’ll learn from them. But when his opponent made a small mistake as well, Curran turned it into a highlight-reel stoppage. For his unbreakable will and his ability to continue to give Bellator fans fantastic finishes, Pat Curran definitely deserves “Best Performance of the Night” for his performance at Bellator 48.
Photo Credit: MMA Torch