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Jeff Curran: Climbing Back to the Top

Jeff Curran (photo courtesy of Sherdog.com)

The road back is never easy, and Jeff Curran is going to show you why.

The multi-promotion and multiple weight-class veteran is preparing a documentary titled “This Is The Fight,” which he looks to have wrapped up in early 2011. The film will chronicle Curran’s attempt to re-join World Extreme Cagefighting, which has now merged fully into the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Curran, 33, had won 15 out of 16 fights from March 2004 to August 2007 to earn a WEC featherweight title shot against then-champ Urijah Faber. He lost by guillotine choke in the second round, and then dropped three more fights, against Mike Brown, Joseph Benavidez and Takeya Mizugaki, all of which were ranked in the top five in their respective weight classes.

Shortly after his loss to Mizugaki in August 2009, Curran signed a two-year contract with Strikeforce and is 1-0 with a win over Dustin Neace. He also has a pair of wins for XFO, with a loss to Bryan Goldsby at Bellator 14 sandwiched in between.

“The documentary is about the road back to the WEC, the road back to being able to fight in world title-level fights,” Curran said to Shayna Baszler and Bruce Hoyer on Not A Women’s MMA Show on the MMA Diehards Radio Network.

Curran had originally hoped to have the documentary ready this fall, but some technical problems pushed back the release date.

“I’m not really in a hurry, but it’s a good story,” Curran said. “It talks about how I got into the sport, my childhood; there’s a lot of training on there. Jens Pulver talks about the hardship in his life and I show a lot of the excitement of the road back.”

Time that isn’t spent working on the documentary is most certainly spent inside Curran’s sprawling 24,000 square-foot training facility, Curran Martial Arts, which is located just outside of Chicago. Curran said he had moved his gym around eight times before finally settling into the marvelous facility he now calls home.

Curran also shed some light on what it is like being a head instructor at his own gym while also continually training for fights. There are several obvious advantages for a fighter owning his or her own gym including extra, steady income and a consistent place to train, but there’s plenty of pressure that comes with the territory.

“It’s Team Curran, so when Jeff Curran loses. it’s a big hit,” Curran explained. “When I do something, it affects the school. There are a lot of places where coaches aren’t fighters any more and they don’t get held accountable for what they do.

“For me, if I lose I’m getting criticized. If I’m trying to teach a class and telling guys to check kicks, and then I go into a fight and I’m taking kicks the whole time, it’s kind of like, ‘Why doesn’t Jeff take his own advice?’  Sometimes it’s a little hard, but it makes me rise up and try to act and do what I preach.”

As head instructor, Curran runs the MMA and jiu-jitsu classes and gets help from now-UFC lightweight Bart Palaszewski as well as other trainers and coaches.

“It’s a big operation but now everyone has a role and knows what to do, and I just happen to be the overall coordinator of day-to-day stuff,” Curran said. “I built it, but we all run it.”

There can be burnout for many MMA coaches, drilling the same techniques over and over again, day after day. Curran said being a fighter helps keep his passion alive.

“When I’m training I just take myself out of the (coaching) mix and if I feel like teaching I’ll just relieve the instructor, so it works out,” Curran said. “I had a school before I started fighting, and until the last couple years I’ve been a lot more submerged in teaching. Now I’ve been able to take step back and take responsibility, and that takes the pressure off and I actually want to teach more.”

Curran certainly has a lot on his plate between putting together a documentary and running a very large MMA facility, but the main goal has been, and will continue to be, a return to the UFC and a shot at championship belts against the world’s best.

Anyone who wonders what goes into such an undertaking can watch the film.

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