We are less than a month away from Season 11 for Bellator MMA and a lot has changed. Gone is founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney, who was replaced by former Strikefoce founder Scott Coker. Gone too is Bellator’s signature tournament format. The direction of Coker Bellator will employ a more traditional form of matchmaking.

The first event of the new season kicks off with Bellator 123 on September 5, 2014 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT and features a featherweight title fight between champion Pat Curran and heated rival Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.

This will be the second meeting between Curran and Freire, with Curran winning by split decision in their first bout at Bellator 85. Freire has won four straight since his loss to Curran and he is hungry for revenge and Bellator gold.

Curran and Freire are very similar fighters when you break it all down; both guys have faced similar competition, both guys have good submission games, and both guys have knockout power. Freire is the more technical striker and the better submission grappler of the two, but Curran is the better wrestler and has the better intangibles. If this rematch is anything like their first meeting, this one is going to be exciting and it is going to come down to the wire.

Bellator needs this fight to set the tone for their organization moving forward. Coker has been put into place to bring Bellator out of the niche market and challenge the UFC for MMA supremacy. And while that isn’t going to happen overnight, it’s important to get off to a strong start. With the UFC counter-programming Bellator with a live event of their own, it’s vital that Bellator give fans a reason to tune in.

Curran and Freire can be that reason.

Curran has the potential to be one of Bellator’s most marketable fighters and he is the perfect name to throw out there to compete directly with the UFC. Curran is a proven winner and a champion, but he still has an underdog aura about him. Fans love rooting for the underdog. Add his exciting style to that aura and Bellator has magic waiting to happen.

Freire is a marketable fighter in his own right; the Brazilian is ultra-talented and he is rarely in a lackluster fight. But it’s his rivalry with Curran that Bellator can really tap into to take the organization to the next level.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.