After watching the WEC fights Wednesday night, Jeff “Big Frog” Curran gives us a raw interview about where he is in his career and where he sees it going.
What’s going through your mind when you see Mike Brown, the guy you last fought and took to a very tough decision, defeat Urijah Faber at 2:23 in the first round, the guy you arguably gave the most trouble to until this fight?
Its funny you ask this question because I was arguing with one of my students the day of their fight about how I felt Brown had all the tools to beat Urijah. Now, don’t get me wrong, I definitely feel Urijah had the tools to beat Brown too, but after fighting Brown and Urijah I felt Brown was strong enough to control him and he hits hard if he lands a shot. So that’s my breakdown of the fight, but before it took place I was simply anxious to see the result. Many people feel I beat Mike Brown and after watching the fight myself a number of times I can see where I may have squeeked past him in some way. When I fought Urijah I was way relaxed, like I am when I train with my students.
Nobody ever seems to mention me taking him down, passing his guard, mounting him then taking his back? Its funny how the commentators and his fans looked past that part of the fight. I lost that fight to a simple mistake. I have always been taught to let submissions fall into my lap as a result of their mistakes. I lost sight of the fact that I should have punished him when i had mount or his back then take the neck. What can i say, even monkeys fall from trees. That was my first time ever being caught in a submission in over 60 mma fights. As for Brown, I really wish I just kept it standing. I have a habit of sitting against the fence. Being the strong wrestler he is he was able to take me down. Allthough I was fine on the ground it never looks good to the judges. To sum it up, after watching that fight it just fired me up. I know in my heart my team and fans know that i am still a top contender in 145 and should be considered a huge threat to anyone I fight.
Even though you have been ranked in the top 5 in the world in the featherweight division for some time now, do you feel you get the respect you deserve?
I feel that certain people dont respect me, and thats fine, but overall I have more respect than those that dont respect me may know. If that makes any sense. I am a mainstay in this sport. Sure, I lost to Urijah, I lost to Brown, whatever. Bottom line is if you stay consistant in this sport like I am things have a funny way to balance themselves out for you. I never got into this sport for money. I didn’t get into this sport for fame. I got into this sport to represent Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and my instructors like Pedro Sauer, Frank Cucci, Doug Mango to name a few. I know more than anyone that respect is earned, not given. People that stare at results may see a few key losses, but I see some of the best lessons a guy can ask for in their career. I have won fights that went as close as Mike Brown’s fight with me, I have lost fights where I thought I had won. Bottom line is this: When you fight guys like Matt Serra, Kid Yamamoto, Urijah Faber, Mike Brown etc. it has a funny way of showing who belongs and who doesn’t. Serra, now 3 weight classes over me, couldn’t finish me off or even come close. Yamamoto had his toughest round with me in round 3 and i finished strong. Urijah….he had his luckiest day of his life with me. Brown? Well Brown had won a grind out battle with me and I steared from strategy which cost me the close loss. Respect? Hell yeah I have respect and for anyone who doesn’t respect me all I can say is good for you. I am confident in who i am as a fighter.
They announced you dropping to the bantamweight division tonight on WEC, how do you see that playing out?
I see myself taking these guys at 135 into deep waters. They have no chance with me. Not many fighters at 145 have a chance with me. I am strong at 135, I make the weight easy and nobody in the division has a technical edge on me at all. I will be the new champion in that division soon enough. That’s a promise.
Everyone wants to see you fight Miguel Torres for the WEC bantamweight title and a lot of people seem to count you out of this fight. Some say he will out strike you and some say he will sub you if it goes to the ground. What do you have to say about that?
For the record, every promoter in Chicagoland area has been trying to pit me and Miguel to fight main events for the past 7 years or so. We always denied. We knew that we would face eachother someday if meant to be and it should be on a big stage for all to see. As for people counting me out, thats just ridiculous thinking. They are obviously uneducated and should trace back our records and see who’s who. Aside from my official 31 wins i have another 20 or so that are not record from back in the day. Miguel can’t beat me at any part of the game and he knows it. If he thinks he can submit me because Urijah got me he is out of his mind (no disrepsect Miguel, but its true). Of course its a fight and anything can happen but Miguel will not be able to handle my power standing, he won’t be able to take me down and he isn’t powerful enough to hurt me. These are facts. These facts are key to our match-up. I have been training BJJ for 15 years non-stop and have been loyal to my instructor. I have not skipped a beat. I can’t believe anyone counts me out of that fight for any reason. But, all we can do is see for ourselves and let it rip. Miguel is a great champion and a good person, hopefully he holds that belt long enough for us to meet in the cage. I will take it from him.
You have arguably beaten Mike Brown and let Urijah Fabor slip through a situation where you had him in a position where you typically have a 99% finish ratio. Do you think you would ever go back to the featherweight division and how do you see the featherweight division a year from now?
I am sure of moving back to the featherweight division. But, not unless its for the right reason and the right time. I didn’t move down to 135 to avoid anybody in 145 or anything like that. I am moving down for a new pace, for a new start and one that can help me get a shot at a world title a little faster than waiting in line at 145. It’s a new challenege for me at 135 with lots of guys I never fought before. Featherweight division now has recently signed 2 guys that can easily challenge for the belt and both guys I had beat. Their only loss in 11 fights or so is to me. These guys are coming and mean business. Like I said, things have a way of balancing out if given the time. The muddy water settles if you let it. Thats what I intend to do. After it settles and I have made my mark at 135, if the deal is right and the Champ isn’t a good friend of mine or somthing like this, then I will gladly re-enter the division and muddy the waters up. Its my division that I have been Co-owning for the past decade.
Your past few fights you say you were not at 100% due to physical problems or business development issues. Could you explain this for us?
It’s actually very hard to explain, but i will try. Bottom line is I have been running my gym and growing my business since before I started fighting. On a much smaller scale then compared to now, but regardless it was done in that order. I never knew where this sport is was headed financially and still really don’t as far as retirement money goes so I always wanted business to come first. I need a place for me and my staff/fighters to work when our carreers are finished or during injury times/downtimes etc… Thats where my focus is and always has been when I am not training. Ask any business owner if any stress comes with their job and how tired they are after a day of sitting in an office. They will all answer the same. It’s exausting. I never used as an excuse because its been a part of my life since the beginning. I have however always wondered what would I have become as a fighter if I just trained and slept. Just busted my butt and recovered. Mentally, emotionally, physically. I never recover. It’s always somthing.
Now, add financial stress to that and its a whole different animal. I recently took on an investment of my new gym that has put me in a 3million dollar total investment. That’s a good chunk of change. That deal closed on May 22. I fought Mike Brown first of June 1st. The week of closing on the new gym was zero training for the most part. I was scrambling for the down payment, alligning everything for the SBA loan etc. It was definatly not what Mike Brown was doing that week. Again, no excuses because this is my life. I am learning lessons as i go in this life because I move fast. I never stop as I said. Not as a fighter, not in business. My life is a web of responsibility.
Another example, when I commenced training for Urijah Faber fight it all started good. 2 weeks non-stop. Then a blow in sparring. Within hours i was urinating blood. Thick, red blood. I had this before so i took a few days off. It got worse. A week in the doc said it would clear up. 2 weeks in it was getting worse. I had now about 5-6 weeks before fighting Urijah. I went in for outpatient surgery. I had to go under anestesia and they had to feed a video camera up inside me through my “you know what”. They found a slight rupture, but nothing requiring surgery. Just rest. I rested a couple more weeks. The blood disipated but never went away until a day or two before the fight. This is the Gods honest truth. I eventually had to make the decision if i was going to call the fight but i felt great. Just had blood pouring out in my urine and it was a little scary. 4-5 weeks of that starts to freak a guy out. Needless to say, i fought, i don’t back down and i don’t intend to stop anytime soon.
Since we are on this subject i would like people to know that when i fought Kid Yamamoto i was less than 6 weeks off surgery on my left knee. I had a bad tear in my miniscus from training. I rested 2 weeks then trained light for 4 weeks before the fight with arguably the toughest 145lb fighter in the world.
You have a lot of things finally starting to go your direction, a new multimillion dollar training facility, a fight team on the rise, and the reinvention of yourself at 135lbs. With your hands in so many opportunities outside the cage are you going to be able focus on getting that belt?
I am more focused than ever. I can’t go any bigger with my gym. I have my house and family taken care of. I have coaches and great students. Man, for the balance of my career it is time to disappear into the midst of the gym and be selfish for my training. Instead of scheduling training around office work and meetings with banks or insurance companies, I will have to set a day or two a month to hammer it all out. Believe me guys, I know what needs to be done and it is time i show the world once and for all who I am and what i stand for.
Of course. Not sure when, but in between the rain drops. I did a black belt gi match earlier this year which was great. I won 6-4. When I retire from fighting I plan to compete in BJJ until my body doesn’t let me. My boys will hopefully be by my side.
If you could just draw up the next two years, what would it look like?
First 6 months earning my spot at a world title against Torres. Last year and a half will be defending it and hopfully making a huge positive impact on the WEC fans and the MMA community.
You’re a family guy and have a second child on the way, tell us how a week in the life at the Currans goes and how do you make time to unplug from work and training?
I don’t really unplug from work or training. For the most part I wake up at 7am, make way to the gym and begin my day. Around 9pm I head home. If my son is up late I see him before bed. If not I see him on weekends. I try to give my wife 1 or 2 days a week where I let her sleep in an extra hour or so and I play with my son Ty before work. She tries to visit me at the gym once a week too. He loves coming to “Dada Skool” to play on the mats etc. At home I am on the computer or phone by my side. She makes dinner based around my diet required at the time and I don’t even have time to cut the grass. My father-in-law helps with that thank God.
Sounds like you have a very tollerant wife? Anything you would like to say to her while we set you up with this softball?;)
Man, Sarah puts up with too much with me. She could have called it quits on me years ago but she loves me and believes in me. Without her support my life would be a disaster. Family, what little time i have with the, is my balance from the hectic whirlwind of my life. Even when I diet she is there to deal with me during my mood changes and my picky little ways. But, she is not a pushover. She is the boss of the house for the most part but she doesn’t abuse that role at all. We have a very healthy relationship.
Now we want to ask your opinion on some “What If’s” for the fun of it.
1. Fedor VS. Anderson Silva
Silva, cuz Fedor couldn’t catch him
2. GSP VS. Anderson Silva
Silva, too sharp
3. BJ VS. Anderson Silva
BJ if he took him down, but doubt it
4. Houston Alexander VS. Kimbo
5. Amir Sadollah VS. Nick Catone
6. Kid Yamamoto VS. Urijah
Kid, not sure how
7. BJ VS. Urijah
8. Rampage VS. Anderson Silva
9. Kid Yamamoto VS. BJ
BJ, size difference
10. Of course the likely hood of some of these is slim to none which one would you like to see most?
I would like to see Urijah vs Kid
11. Do you have a fantasy fight that we haven’t listed that you would like to see?
Varner vs Palaszewski
12. Any closing remarks for your fans and sponsors?
A special thanks to my boys at TapouT for all their support, Fairtex as well. Thanks to Suckerpunch for taking the time to ask my thoughts. A thanks to WEC and my management team across the board. A special thanks to my friends and family who always support me and for all the students of Team Curran for trusting me and our staff in our leadership.