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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Longtime MMA veteran Jeff Curran makes his return to the big show later this month at UFC 137, taking on Scott Jorgensen in a bantamweight fight in Las Vegas. The fight will mark Curran's first under the Zuffa banner since a release from the WEC over two years ago, and the 34-year-old "Big Frog" couldn't be happier to get another major opportunity like this.
"Words can't describe, man," Curran told MMATorch recently. "I'm super excited, and I'm really ready to get out there and represent what I'm all about, my team, my family, and everything we're trying to stand for these days. "
Curran had some high profile battles with some big names in the WEC's featherweight and bantamweight divisions from 2007-2009, but went through a four fight losing stretch in the organization before his release. That unfortunately unsuccessful run against Urijah Faber, Mike Brown, Joseph Benavidez and Takeya Mizugaki still stings, but this shot in the UFC is giving Curran the chance to not only make a statement to the MMA world, but to himself as well.
"It's really a chance for me to prove myself to me," he said. "Fans and friends and family, most of them have been supportive of me throughout the years and the ups and downs - some fans come and go and whatnot - [but] I let myself down in the WEC. I let myself down over the years trying to do things the way I thought they needed to be done to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish."
"Now is a chance for me to prove to myself that I belong here and to prove to myself that I made the right choice, that I made the right adjustments to be where I want to be. Not that I think that if I lose it's all gone down the toilet, by any means; I still consider myself one of the best in the world regardless. But I think this is a chance for me to really prove to myself that I have what it takes to be one of the best presently, not just in the past."
In his nearly 14 year career, Curran has bounced through multiple divisions, in multiple organizations across the U.S. and Canada (and one trip to Japan). His lone UFC appearance came in the lightweight division back in 2004 when he dropped a decision to future Welterweight Champion Matt Serra, but he's consistently competed at a high level since then. Now fighting at 135 lbs., Curran sees the division as a home for well-rounded talent, and because of that he feels the matchups lend themselves to exciting stylistic fights.
"There's not many holes in people's games [at 135 lbs.], and there's not many holes in mine," Curran said. "That kind of makes the type of fight I like. I've always said I'm at my best when I can change up and let loose. When I'm just straight wrestling, my wrestling's decent, when I'm doing jiu jitsu, my jiu jitsu's good; but when I can put it all together and I don't know which way the fight's going [that's when I'm at my best]… This division is stacked as it is. Guys like Scott Jorgensen, they [give me the] desire to be the best that I can possibly be. My respect is through the roof for all these guys, including Scott, and I think that's what makes this division so intriguing, the talent level of all these guys."
That young up and coming talent may seem like a potential deterrent to a weathered veteran, but Curran insists his continued focus on improving aspects of his game that may be lacking - especially since his WEC release - will allow him to be competitive against anyone.
"With five fights since my exodus from the WEC I was able to come out of my shell in certain areas, and I was able to awaken parts of my game that maybe I hadn't used in a while," he said. My overall focus towards training and getting my personal life on track made a big difference. I'm always trying to learn. I do not think I know it all…
"Yes, I have the experience, but I'm an open book; if somebody says 'here's a submission that works' I'm all over it, 'let's tweak it, let's talk about it.' If somebody's visiting and catching me in something I'm asking them… I've been doing the same stuff for ten years, making little tweaks along the way… [to become] more well versed. I'm always trying to tighten up everything, that's what my job is. I'm not here to claim I'm the best there can be."
Curran knows he's in for a big challenge against Jorgensen, a fighter who tore through a lot of his competition in the WEC to earn a title shot in that organization, and who made a very impressive UFC debut in his last fight. However, while he's preparing for everything Jorgensen could possibly bring into their bout, he realizes he won't truly know what to expect, and won't find out until he's in the cage with him on Oct. 29.
"[Scott's] a worker, he's very aggressive. He likes to bang. His style is a very good style for me, as far as allowing me to fight my fight," Curran said. "Opposite of that, if he decides to go really technical with me on the ground I know I have the advantage. Of course I have to give him the props on his wrestling and he's really dangerous everywhere, but he doesn't have anything I haven't seen before. I just have to make sure that when I'm fighting him, I tune into my memory bank of when I've been there before and try to figure out what I did right and wrong from all the years I've had studying my tapes and the feeling I had when I fought the last guy that has his style, and what did I do wrong?"
"I don't know what to expect from Scott until I feel it. He looks like he hits really hard; he could not hit hard at all… it's hard to say until you're out there. It's the same thing with me. He could think he's safe in my guard until he gets into my guard and I'm sweeping him; or I could think I'll get the sweep, until he's in my guard and I can't touch him… Ultimately we'll need to feel each other out before we know how this is really going to go down."
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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