Patricio “Pitbull” Freire is set to face off with Pat Curran in the main event of Bellator 123. The rematch follows Pitbull’s loss in a tough five round decision to Curran, and he’s bound to be looking for payback. So much happened in their five rounds of Bellator 85, but positives and negatives alike, here’s how Pitbull can take Curran’s featherweight Title in the rematch.
Pitbull was easily the more engaging and aggressive of the two in the opening rounds. Curran fought a calculated and conservative style, choosing carefully when to close in for punching combinations. This proved initially difficult, because Pitbull remained a very mobile target. Pitbull set up some great punching combinations followed up by kicks, but neither fighters strikes connected 100% for the most part. The greatest point of interest is in the first rounds is Pitbull’s repeated leg kicks when closing in on Curran. I counted zero checked leg kicks on the part of Curran. He seemed to weighed heavily on his front leg and ate every single one of them.
Pitbull was still maneuvering well in the third round, but as the fight goes on from here, Curran’s boxing precision begins to take it’s toll on Pitbull. Curran starts to take a more aggressive offense, engaging Pitbull much more. In the fourth, “Paddy Mike” connected on some absolute textbook jabs. Pitbull had one takedown attempt in the fourth and one in the fifth, but he was stopped both times by Curran’s hard sprawls. If you rewatch their match from Bellator 85, compare Pitbull’s movement in the first to the fifth rounds. He doesn’t move his head nearly as much after being worn down, making for a much easier target for Curran’s boxing game.
In my opinion, Pitbull was really eager to strike with Curran and got outboxed. Three of Pitbull’s last 4 victories were KO and TKO by punches, so it stands to reason why he led with the intent of blasting Curran like the last opponents. Hell, he could could try the same thing in the rematch and beat Curran in the standing game, but not without changing his approach. I believe the best thing for Pitbull to do is revisit the leg kicks he made in round one. Curran hardly did anything about them, he just took them while waiting for Pitbull to come into his range. If he really is going to eat every leg kick, Pitbull should keep laying them on for as long as he can. If he can impair Curran’s mobility before setting up his gritty punching, that will only make him an easier target. Who knows? Even though Pitbull’s two takedowns were unsuccessful, he might have a better chance at grabbing hold of a leg that has been been charley-horsed to death.
Have a better strategy for Pitbull? What do you think Curran’s game plan is going into the rematch?