Bellator 39 rolls out tonight with hot prospect Eddie Alvarez (21-2) putting his lightweight belt up for grabs against the highly resilient Pat Curran (13-3) in what most anticipate to be a thorough trouncing.  Will anyone really be surprised if Alvarez, the #6 lightweight in the world, devastates the unremarkable Curran, a contender many feel shouldn't even have advanced past Huerta and Imada?

Betting odds as high as -600 for the Philly-based champ indicate that annihilation is imminent, and -- don't get me wrong -- that's not hard to fathom.  But rather than explain how Alvarez might overwhelm Curran like he's done to all but two of his twenty-three opponents, just go watch his highlight reel; let's consider a few stylistic problems Curran might present instead with analysis of how these two stack up in each of the three phases of combat.

Free Movement / Striking Phase

Pat Curran does nothing flashy, fundamentally unsound, or foolish.  He's the perfect definition of patient, accurate, and judicious on the feet.  He mixes the whole enchilada of strikes to keep his adversary guessing, including low, mid, and high kicks interlaced with punches, and is very cerebral in selection and timing.  With a stout one-two and a strong left-hook anchoring his sequences, Curran also likes to use a straight front-kick in place of a jab.

He's never been knocked out or lost to strikes, mostly due to his exceptional shelling and head movement, and he has solid defense overall.  His wrestling roots are evident in his fairly crouched, closed stance, and despite not being overly active with footwork, he makes up for it with lightning quick reactions, excellent balance, precise counters, and a constantly loaded cannon for a right hand.

Curran is, however, susceptible to low-kicks, as Huerta bounced three or four in a row off his front leg that he didn't even attempt to check.  Also having a tendency to drift towards his opponent's power-side, Curran compensates by fanatically sustaining his guard and accepting the risk in order to sight-in his own hefty right in return.  This is a gamble that could make or break him against the high-octane Bellator lightweight champ.

Read the full in-depth piece with gifs over at BloodyElbow.com


Now that Olympic Judoka Rick Hawn is snapping off sharpened Muay Thai on the feet, his clubbed hands and BJJ Black Belt don't offer Lyman Good many holes to exploit.  Good, the first and former Bellator welterweight champion, is hardcore enough to sleep on a Tempur-Pedic mattress inside the cage during his training camp and throw down with Olympic-level grapplers in two of his last three fights.

Free Movement / Striking Phase

The most significant element here is how quickly Hawn has developed his striking under Sensei Mark Dellagrotte.  Seven of Hawn's ten wins came via the flesh-covered mallets he calls hands.  Beginning a bit primitive by basically cornering his opponents and bashing them into unconsciousness, Hawn has made enormous strides with his striking.

In two short years of MMA, any fighter with a strong grappling background is lucky to upgrade their stand-up game to anything beyond clumsy and ugly.  Not only has Hawn constructed a functional striking game in the Sityodtong garage, but he's also bolted on a list of basics that often go unappreciated:  constant head movement, a high and vigilant guard, twisting and rolling his upper body in the pocket to blossom angles, and he dictates the pace with a busy left jab.

Hawn's lower body remains rigidly cemented to the floor in heated exchanges, which allows him to generate a frightening amount of force in his punches, and his base and balance are strong enough that affronting foes simply bounce off in collisions.  The potentially negative aspect of this tendency is that a stationary target is easier to hit.

Where Hawn is striving to accelerate is where Tiger Schulmann product Lyman Good dominates.  Undefeated in the all-striking "World Combat League" and unhinging all but Ben Askren in MMA, Good is a physical specimen with smooth and crisp stand-up.  He has the heart and inherent toughness of a natural born fighter and shows it in every fight.

Read the rest of Hawn x Good along with Imada-Freire and Saunders-Lee on BloodyElbow.com





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