With Hector Lombard and Eddie Alvarez already moving on from Bellator (or attempting to in the latter’s case), fans’ attention has turned towards other fighters on the promotion’s roster potentially suited for a run in the UFC rather than status in a secondary organization. One of the chief contenders in that regard is unquestionably featherweight champion Pat Curran.

The 18-4 Illinois native has gone 9-1 since 2010 including wins over Roger Huerta, Mike Ricci, Joe Warren, and most recently Patricio Freire. With Curran’s only loss in the span coming by decision to Alvarez prior to his current run at 145 pounds, a stint in the Octagon certainly makes sense even if it is likely a long ways off.

Regardless of his long-term future, Curran considers himself to currently be one of the sport’s top competitors and expects to be in an even more elevated position come 2014 when a discussion on the UFC might merit re-visiting.

“I know this is gonna be a good year for me. I want to stay as active as possible. We have Daniel Straus next. I just gotta go home, get a couple X-Rays, make sure everything’s okay, and I’m gonna be right back in the gym training,” said Curran in a conversation with MMAInterviews after beating Freire. “I definitely feel like I’m one of the best fighters, not just in my weight-class but pound-for-pound in the world.”

Curran’s win over “Pitbull” marked the first defense of his title since knocking out Warren and was his fifth consecutive instance of in-ring success.