HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The Cinderella story continues for Pat Curran, as he defeated Toby Imada by split decision in the 2010 Bellator Fighting Championships lightweight tournament at Bellator 21 on Thursday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
The win earns Curran a shot at Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez later this year. He also defeated heavily favored UFC veteran Roger Huerta by unanimous decision and Mike Ricci by knockout en route to winning the tournament.
Curran’s fight with Imada started off slow. Most of the first round was spent clinched against the cage, where both men exchanged knees and attempted to score with strikes. Imada — who fought Alvarez in the 2009 lightweight final — felt Curran’s wrath late, as he rocked him with a left hook.
A lackluster second round made those in attendance restless, as they begged for action. To answer the fans, Curran caught Imada with a right hand, but the fight came to a halt when his mouthpiece came out. With a few seconds left in the round, Curran attempted an unsuccessful Superman punch, but he landed a front kick to Imada’s chin right before the bell.
The last round was a struggle for survival. Curran opened the period with a few left jabs, but Imada countered and connected with a right cross. A stiff knee rocked Imada, yet he fearlessly responded with an offensive combination. Curran controlled the rest of the fight by sprawling out of Imada’s takedown attempts. He punctuated his victory with a hard right hand, which opened a nasty laceration on Imada’s eyelid.
Imada’s last-ditch effort to get the fight to the ground failed, as the two lightweights finished the match on their feet and left the decision to the judges. Scores were 29-28 across the board, with two of the judges siding with Curran.
In the co-headliner, the undefeated Megumi Fujii earned the first technical knockout of her storied mixed martial arts career, as she stopped Sarah Schneider 1:58 into round three on strikes from the mount.
Fujii, who had not fought on American soil in more than three years, tested her foe by throwing kicks in the first round. Schneider worked on landing some jabs. A black belt in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Fujii controlled the fight on the ground, cut Schneider across the bridge of the nose and mounted her in the third round. A series of unanswered blows ended Schneider’s night.
The 36-year-old Fujii, who has finished her last eight opponents, will compete in Bellator’s Season 3 women’s tournament.
Luis Palomino def. Jose Figueroa — Unanimous Decision
Zach Makovsky def. Eric Luke — Submission (Kimura) 4:28 R2
Frank Carrillo def. Sabah Homasi — TKO (Elbows) 3:16 R3
Mike Hayes def. Steven Banks — Unanimous Decision
Moyses Gabin def. Chris Boffil — Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 4:41 R1
Brian Eckstein def. Mitchell Chamale — Unanimous Decision