Curtis Millender (7-1) competes this Friday at Bellator 137 opposite opponent Fernando Gonzalez. We sit down with the prospective welterweight to learn about how he is preparing for his second promotional fight.
SF: What are some new tools you plan on bringing into this fight?
Millender: New combinations and being faster and stronger than I’ve ever been. Bellator hasn’t seen me win yet and that’s going to be the big thing, just to show the Bellator world that Curtis is here. That last fight has passed and I’m ready to show the world what I can do.
SF: What do you think will edge the victory for you against your opponent Fernando Gonzalez?
Millender: Using the abilities I have, being faster, more rangy and just being smart. Not giving him the opportunity to throw punches in his range-make him fight my fight.
SF: Before you got into MMA you played football and wrestled. Why did you pick MMA over any other sport?
Millender: My baby brother plays football for a university out in Missouri and I’ve seen him get hit really hard. I’ve been hit hard in football too but I’ve only ever played about two games. It’s kind of a funny story, the coach put me on special teams in my last game and I thought I had a clear shot at the guy with the ball. I went after him and I got hit so hard-I looked up at my dad and was like yo, this is it, last day. I wrestled before I ever played football, so I said get me back to the mat and the boxing ring, that’s what I wanted to do. I knew at an early age what I wanted to do.
I mean, a whole 250 lb. man just blasting you doesn’t sound fun to me, that’s crazy. It’s funny because my brother said the same thing about me. Everyone has a different view on it.
SF: From an instructor’s perspective, do you think that in the future we’ll see martial arts training as part of public school physical education curriculum?
Millender: I don’t think so, we can’t even have a sanctioned fight in New York. I don’t know, unless the next president of the United States is a fighter and could get everyone else on the same level I doubt that could ever happen. We’re still shunned and looked down on by so many people, I don’t see it happening. Not for years at least.
SF: Do you think wrestling has been more accepted because there’s no striking involved?
Millender: Yeah, very much so. When it comes to being a parent and watching your kid getting hit in the face, it will make you uncomfortable-you’re not gonna like it. Unfortunately, everyone’s going to look down on it. I’ve been doing this since I was 8 years old-I haven’t been in a street fight since probably the 6th grade. If I didn’t tell you I was a fighter, you wouldn’t know.
SF: In training for this fight, are you working with partners at UFC gym? What training facility are you a part of?
Millender: I train at UFC Gym and I also train out of Reign Training Center with Mark Munoz. There’s a bunch of guys over there that have a similar style as Fernando. I also train in Pinnacle MMA so I have a lot of guys I train with. I’m definitely well prepared when it comes to training partners.
SF: Do you find that moving around from gym to gym keeps you sharper?
Millender: Yes, I love to change it up to constantly be exposed to new fighting styles and partners. I don’t want to get too comfortable with the guys I’m working with.
SF: What were some of your biggest takeaways from your last fight against Brennan Ward?
Millender: Working on my mental game. Sometimes when I watch the fight I feel like I gave up a little prematurely. I probably could have fought the choke longer and definitely not made the mistake of moving backwards. Especially not against Fernando, he has way better standup. I have to make sure my footwork is on point, I understand and know what to expect. I’m ready to show the world.
SF: Is there anything else you’d like to include?
Millender: Shout out to Regin, Mark Munoz and all the guys that train there. There’s been nothing but love there.
Catch Curtis Millender in Bellator 137 on Friday on Spike TV at 9/8C.