Curran regains title by submission

Pat Curran's dramatic fifth-round submission of Daniel Straus gave him a 2-1 lead in their rivalry. Keith Mills/Sherdog

Pat Curran's team told him he needed a finish heading into the final round of his Bellator MMA featherweight title fight against Daniel Straus on Friday night.

He didn't let them down.

Curran (20-5) reclaimed the 145-pound title over the man who took it from him, submitting Straus (22-5) at the 4:46 mark of the fifth round via rear-naked choke. The bout headlined Bellator 112 at Horseshoe Hammond Casino in Hammond, Ind.

With 90 seconds remaining in the bout, Curran took Straus' back in a scramble and sunk his right arm underneath the chin. Straus initially gave referee Gary Copeland a thumbs up, but was eventually forced to tap the canvas.

Scorecards later revealed Curran was even on one card, trailing 3-1 on the second and leading 3-1 on the third entering Round 5.

"Man, all I can say is mad respect for Daniel Straus," Curran said. "He is a hell of a fighter. Fifth round, rear-naked choke -- those are championship rounds. I had to dig deep for this win.

"I thought Daniel was edging each round. I think he was up on the scorecards. Thank God I got that rear-naked choke in the fifth."

Straus, who was forced to shave off his trademark dreadlocks in an effort to make weight on Thursday, appeared to take control of the fight in the fourth round.

The title bout, which was the third meeting between the two featherweights, had been fairly even to that point. Known for his terrific cardio, Straus pushed the pace in the fourth and it seemed to take its effect on Curran.

The former champion turned it around in the fifth, however, landing a few good knees from the Thai clinch in the center of the cage and forcing the scramble, which eventually led to him taking Straus' back.

Surprisingly, it was Curran's offensive grappling that seemed to have the most success against Straus. He forfeited a takedown to Curran early in the first round, and was eventually forced to fend off a power guillotine.

Straus came roaring back in the second round, dropping Curran with a straight left hand when Curran turned his back after throwing a leg kick. The strike caused significant swelling near Curran's right eye, which worsened as the fight continued.

The win places Curran ahead in the rivalry, 2-1. He scored a second-round knockout over Straus in April 2009. Straus evened the score in November, earning a unanimous decision in a five-round title fight at Bellator 106.

Curran earned the 12th finish of his pro career. ESPN.com ranked the Illinois native the No. 8 featherweight in the world heading into the bout. The loss snaps a six-fight win streak for Straus. It is the first time he has been submitted since his professional debut in February 2009.

Welterweight tournament opening round:

Andrey Koreshkov (14-1) def. Nah-Shon Burrell via TKO, 0:41 of the first round

Sam Oropeza (11-2) def. Cristiano Souza (7-1) via TKO, 3:07 of the first round

Adam McDonough (10-0) def. Jesse Juarez (21-8) via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Nathan Coy (15-4) def. Paul Bradley (21-7) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)