DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK:
The Jeff Curran Story
RFA 24 IN MINNESOTA
FRIDAY MARCH 6TH LIVE ON AXS TV
BY K. David Bena
UFC, PRIDE, WEC, WFA, IFL, Strikeforce. Only ONE FIGHTER has fought for all six of these promotions that are currently under the Zuffa umbrella. That fighter? Jeff "Big Frog" Curran.
Curran ends his 19-month retirement and enters the octagon at RFA 24 on Friday, March 6th at the Mystic Lake Casino & Hotel in Prior Lake, Minnesota. The event will be televised live and nationwide on AXS TV. The veteran bantamweight, Curran (36-16-1) will test his mettle in the co-main event against the surging Melvin Blumer (11-2) who is touting a 5-fight win streak.
Think back to 1991… What were you doing? Well, Curran was a wide-eyed 14-year old that decided to train jiu-jitsu. Curran explains, "My first class, I learned something called 'paint the floor' also known as an Americana and I knew that's what I wanted to do and I just continued training jiu-jitsu ever since. I kept the focus on myself as an athlete and a fighter and one thing kept leading to another."
Fast-forward to August 16, 2013 at RFA 9, Curran lost a split decision in a bantamweight title fight against Pedro Munhoz. "I retired after my last fight in the RFA. I've fought for a world title and been in every major show in the sport and been fighting, at that time, for 17 years. I just felt that with my business and the gym, where I was at that stage in my life, my kids and family, I thought that it was time to retire."
Curran adds, "But, mainly, I didn't want to be second best, I never wanted to be average as a fighter. Once I felt the dream was gone or the opportunity was gone to climb back to the UFC, to fight the best guys in the world, I felt it was best to stop since my prime has kind of passed."
However, after careful introspection and the smoldering desire to continue fighting, Curran decided to step back into the cage. "I wanted to win the fight, win the belt, and go out on top. I felt it would be a real admirable way to retire, but it didn't go my way. So I retired – and it never sat well with me," Curran explained. "And the more time that went on, I felt the need to fight. I started to look for opportunities and RFA found an opportunity for me to fight again. So here I am."
Juggling roles as a family man, business man, coach, and fighter might make some people's head spin, but Curran explains, "I had my gym before I had my first fight, so I was always used to the responsibility of splitting my time, but now it's a lot more in-depth than it used to be because my fighters are at different levels and require more time. Business is also on a different level – and I have two boys that are growing faster by the day and I have my wife. There's responsibility across the board and it's more than it was schedule-wise than back when I was opening a school. Yeah, it's a lot to juggle, but I do it."
Through all his responsibilities, Curran maintains focus for his upcoming fight with the dangerous Melvin Blumer, "His win streak speaks volumes, especially in the Midwest because a lot of the guys you fight are pretty similar in strength and skill set, so you get tough competition and local promoters in the Midwest are always looking to put on good fights. A guy that is 11-2 (Blumer) and on a 5-fight win streak is impressive to me and it's exactly what I want."
Curran explains further, "I don't want to fight some bum or fight someone I know I can beat. I want to fight someone that can challenge me and let me know if I still belong in the game or give me the right sense of accomplishment if I win, so Blumer's a great opponent. Blumer is tough. I give him enough respect to train my ass off and treat him as a top ten guy. But with that being said, I know I'm top ten caliber, so I'm bringing everything I got and I think it will make for a good fight."
And what is Curran's next step with a victory? Even he isn't sure, "I don't know what my next move is. I didn't make a definite decision one way or another. To be honest, I know when I lost, retirement didn't fit well with me, but with the right win it most likely could, but at the same time with the right win, I can get the attention of the UFC and decide if I want to chase my first UFC victory."
On Friday, March 6th, Curran and everyone watching will be wondering what the "Big Frog's" next venture in life will be.