After winning the Bellator 2011 Summer Series, Curran (18-4) obliterated then champion Joe Warren to take the title. Injuries kept the Crystal Lake native on the shelf until the start of Bellator’s eighth season, which saw him outpoint Patricio “Pitbull” Freire in an instant classic.
Straus (21-4) earned his shot by taking home the Bellator Season Six Tournament Championship. That iteration of the tournament saw the Cincinnati native take home victories over Jeremy Spoon, Mike Corey, and Marlon Sandro to win. The Team Vision fighter then took a one-off bout with UFC veteran Alvin Robinson to keep himself busy, a fight which he won by second round submission.