Four local featured fights bookend four televised tournament bouts this Thursday

CHICAGO, Ill. (April 12, 2010) — MMA legend and prominent local MMA instructor Jeff Curran, two of his students and an up-and-coming young female fighter from the Chicago suburbs are among seven fighters from Illinois slated to participate in Bellator Fighting Championships’ Thursday night event at the historic Chicago Theatre.

The 32-year-old Curran has been fighting professionally for more than 12 years and has competed for virtually every major MMA promotion including the UFC, Strikeforce, the WEC, PRIDE and the IFL. He is also widely considered to be the Chicago-area’s top mixed martial arts instructor and has trained hundreds of aspiring young MMA fighters over the past decade at his Curran Martial Arts Academy in suburban Crystal Lake.

Among them are two up-and-coming pro fighters who will compete along with him at the Chicago event: 12-4-1 Ryan Sturdy of Crystal Lake and Jeff’s own cousin, 9-3 Pat Curran of suburban Cary.

“It’s going to be an interesting night because I have my own fight and I’ll also be there to support Ryan and my cousin Pat,” Jeff Curran said. “It’s gonna be a great night all around — especially since I get to fight here in my hometown for a really big, up-and-coming promotion like Bellator. I know I’m sure going to do my part to put on an exciting show for all the Chicago fans who’ll be there.”

In addition, the Chicago Theatre event will feature Bellator’s first female fight of 2010, pitting six-time world champion lightweight boxing champion and budding MMA star Jessica Rakoczy against Buffalo Grove, Ill., native Felice Herrig, one of the world’s most-talked about up-and-coming female MMA stars.

“It’s not very often that I get to fight in front of my hometown fans,” Herrig said. “I have a pretty big fan base here in Chicago and I really feed off the energy of the crowd so it should be a great night. On top of that, the Chicago Theatre is an awesome venue and Bellator is a great promotion.”

The complete Local Feature Fight Card is as follows:

–          Main Event: Chicago’s own MMA legend Jeff Curran (32-12-1) versus Bryan Goldsby (15-6), a Macon, Ga., product discovered by Bellator officials during a recent open tryout in South Florida;

–          MMA up-and-comer and hometown favorite Felice Herrig (2-2) of Buffalo Grove, Ill., versus six-time world champion lightweight boxing champion and budding MMA star Jessica Rakoczy (0-1) of Las Vegas;

–          Chicago-based Strikeforce veteran Louis “Battery” Taylor (5-1) versus Curran Martial Arts Academy product and former college football standout Ryan Sturdy (12-4-1) of Crystal Lake, Ill.;

–          Cincinnati product Daniel Straus* (10-2) versus Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist and Strikeforce veteran Jonatas Novaes* (5-3).

The event will also feature four nationally televised first round bouts in Bellator’s eight-man single-elimination lightweight, featherweight and welterweight tournaments.

Each of these tournament bouts will be broadcast live on FOX Sports Net nationwide and will be featured during weekly Saturday-night Bellator highlight shows on NBC and Telemundo. They are:

–          Main Event: Former two-time NCAA wrestling champion and U.S. Olympian Ben Askren (3-0) of Milwaukee versus former UFC contender Ryan “The Tank Engine” Thomas (10-3) of Lee’s Summitt, Mo..

–          Former NYU wrestling star Shad Lierley (5-2) of Seattle, Wash., versus Brazilian takedown artist and former EliteXC Featherweight Champion Wilson Reis (9-1).

–          Georges Saint-Pierre training partner Mike Ricci (5-0) of Montreal versus Pat Curran (9-3) of Cary, Ill., the cousin of MMA legend Jeff Curran; and

–          A battle of undefeated fighters with Brazilian submission artist Patricio Pitbull (12-0) versus the highly touted Canadian fighter William Romero (5-0).

 Tickets for the Chicago Theatre event are available at

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