A right knee to the jaw wobbled Warren and Curran immediately pounced. Curran landed hard right and left hands that forced Warren to cover up. Curran cut through Warren's meager defense with hard right uppercuts. Then he landed knees to the body that sent Warren against the cage.
With each strike Warren became more defenseless, but referee Jeff Malott refused to stop the action.
Curran continued delivering punches; three right uppercuts would dropped Warren, forcing Malott to jump in at 1:35 of the third round.
"I wanted to wait, take my time and look for my openings," said the 24-year-old Curran, who will make his first defense against Patricio Freire.
A date for the Bellator featherweight title bout has not yet been determined.
Curran improves to 17-4. Warren suffers back-to-back losses for the first time in his pro career. He is 7-3.
Cory overcomes shaky start to defeat Mann
Ronnie Mann vowed to be the aggressor during his featherweight tournament quarterfinal bout with Mike Cory. And during the opening round Mann kept his word, sending Cory to the canvas with two right hands.
But after tasting the canvas in the first, Cory used his superior wrestling skills to overpower Mann in the final two rounds en route to a unanimous decision win.
All three judges scored the fight 29-28. ESPN.com also had Cory winning 29-28.
Though Cory was dropped and hurt in the first round from two right hands, he was able to regain his bearings and return to his feet. He would take Mann to the ground during the final seconds of the round.
That takedown served as a precursor to what would happen in the final two rounds.
Cory (12-2) took Mann down in both the second and third rounds. Once on the ground, the physically larger Cory landed hard punches to the head and body.
Mann slips to 21-5-1.
Sandro submits Vargas in first round
A first-round knockout loss to Pat Curran on Aug. 20 during the Bellator 2011 Summer Series Featherweight Tournament has proved to be a motivating factor for 145-pound contender Marlon Sandro.
Sandro took a step toward achieving his goal of becoming champion with a first-round submission of Roberto Vargas in a quarterfinal featherweight tournament bout.
"I wanted to finish this fight by submission or a knockout," said Sandro, who improved to 21-3. "I just want to [fight for] the championship in here."
The determined Sandro jumped on Vargas in the opening seconds of the fight. He landed a hard right hand that wobbled Vargas in the first minute.
A right uppercut would send Vargas to the canvas. Vargas returned to his feet, but a left-right combination from Sandro would send him to the ground again.
After delivering several punches to the head of his fallen opponent, Sandro applied a rear-naked choke that forced Vargas to tap at the 3:35 mark.
Vargas falls to 12-2. Sandro wins his second fight in a row since the loss to Curran.
Franklin McNeil covers MMA and boxing for ESPN.com. He also appears regularly on "MMA Live." Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.