After picking up two straight wins in 2016, welterweight up and comer Curtis Millender was looking to keep his momentum going as he entered his first fight of 2017 in January against Johnny Cisneros at Bellator 170.
Half way through the second round of his bout with Cisneros, Millender was able to pick up a TKO – his first finish in three years – and raise his current winning streak to three in a row.
“I feel it definitely was one of my better performances,” Millender told MMAWeekly.com. “I got the finish, and that was one of my goals for this year was to finish everyone. I feel I definitely have the talent to be in the UFC, but I have to show them that I can go out there and be exciting and finish guys as well.”
Millender is consciously making an effort to finish fights after a stretch that saw him pick up three decisions in a row. A big part of what has helped him has been his work at the Combat Submission Wrestling gym.
“I still definitely keep the same style of hit and don’t get hit, but now if they miss, I’ve got to make sure that I kill them,” said Millender. “It’s not just scoring points; I want to make those points count.
“I have always been a great wrestler, but being (at CSW) and being back in the grind, wrestling a lot, being on my back, I’m comfortable now. A lot of the spinning and flying knees I do, I didn’t want to, because I was afraid I’d get caught and end up on my back. The evolution from then to now is big. My confidence has grown.”
Millender (11-3) will look to add to his winning streak when he takes on Kevin Holland (9-2) in the main event of Legacy Fighting Alliance 13 this Friday in Burbank, California.
“It’s definitely not an easy fight, but it is definitely winnable,” Millender said. “The only advantage (Holland) has in the fight is the ground, and his wrestling is horrible, so he’s not even going to be able to get me there to even use it. I just plan on being the same me: be rangy and when he makes mistakes to make him pay for it.”
Millender knows that in order to get to the top level of MMA, he has to perform well when in a headlining spot, and it’s an opportunity he relishes.
“I’ve always been a showman and wanted to be in this kind of spotlight,” said Millender. “I would never call it negative to say it’s pressure. I know I’m the first name on the banner, so I want to make sure that when people come out to see me, they’re excited, they enjoy their evening, because I did what I came to do.”
A move up to the next level is what Millender is seeking in 2017. Either with a strong performance on Friday or by adding a championship to his resume, Millender wants to make moves this year.
“When I finish him, and if my next fight isn’t in the UFC, I should be fighting for the LFA belt,” Millender said. “I just feel like there’s nobody here – especially in California – that can deal with me. I feel like I’m the best unsigned welterweight.”