Chris Curtis thought his dream of fighting in the UFC was over.
Curtis competed on DWCS in 2018 and scored a highlight-reel head kick KO win but didn’t get the contract. It was his seventh win in a row but Dana White passed on him and since then, he has been competing in PFL and on the regional scene and a few weeks ago, he got the call on Thursday night to weigh-in and fight Phil Hawes in two days.
Curtis took the fight and made 185lbs, but Hawes declined the fight on short notice. Once that happened, Curtis thought his UFC contract was going to get pulled from him, but his former roommate, and longtime friend and training partner, Sean Strickland called Mick Maynard and pleaded with him to keep him on the roster which he did just that.
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“I was super sick, man. My contract was dependent on me fighting and I did my part, I showed up and he said no,” Curtis said on Just Scrap Radio on BJPENN.com. “My first thought was like you got to be kidding me, man they are going to drop me. It was at the point where everyone was freaking out and then Sean Strickland called Mick Maynard to plead on my behalf to not cut me. My manager is then talking to Mick to let me fight. You know it’s crazy when Sean Strickland calls and goes out of his way to save you. Mick Maynard did me a huge solid and kept me on.”
Maynard ended up keeping Curtis on the roster and rebooked the Hawes fight for three weeks later at UFC 268 in Madison Square Garden, which he’s excited about.
“Talk about failing forward. I went from the Apex to Madison Square Garden for my debut, like how many people get to debut at Madison Square Garden. It worked out, I’ll take it,” Curtis said.
Against Phil Hawes, Chris Curtis knows they are polar opposites in terms of their styles. However, Curtis knows he has the skills to be able to keep it standing and force Hawes into a kickboxing fight which he won’t be comfortable in.
“We are complete opposites. He’s a wrestler who is learning to strike and I’m a striker learning to wrestle. At the end of the day, though, he’s a wrestler, he does have the one KO, but he’s not really a guy to knock people out. I think he will come out, play for a little bit, and I will hit him and he will start wrestling. The question is who can do it longer? Can he wrestle longer or can I defend longer? I’ve fought a lot of wrestlers in my time so it’s nothing new to me and I’m the most experienced guy he has fought by far. I’m not too worried about it.”
If Curtis can keep it standing, he knows he will have a ton of success in the fight and eventually find the finish. He expects Hawes to eventually quit in there and leave an opening for him to take.
“I plan on drowning him, I’m going to drag him as far as I can go. Three weeks isn’t a full camp, so at this point, it’s about who has the most grit,” Curtis said. “I plan to make it miserable and make him quit.”
If Curtis gets his hand raised at UFC 268, it’ll be a long time coming for him. He retired after his loss in PFL in 2019 as he thought the chances of fighting in the UFC were over. He admits there were countless times he thought his dream of fighting inside the Octagon would never happen but he got his chance and he plans to make the most of it at UFC 268.
Do you think Chris Curtis will beat Phil Hawes at UFC 268?This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM