The PFL one million dollar welterweight tournament is upon us and for Rory MacDonald, his opponent has changed. The former UFC contender lost his first dance partner in David Michaud and will now take on the heavy-handed Curtis Millender.
Curtis Millender: ‘I’m putting Rory down’ at PFL 2021 #2
Curtis Millender (18-6) has fought for a number of major organizations including, UFC, Bellator and LFA. However, his path to PFL was not the easiest.
“A few months back when they posted their roster for welterweights, I seen that there were a couple spots that weren’t filled,” Millender told James Lynch for MMASucka.com. “I immediately went to my management and was like ‘yo, I’m interested. Try to get me on.’ They originally told me that the whole roster was filled, full, so I kept training, I was in camp with Eryk Anders at the time, so I was just training, trying to stay in shape. A few weeks later, I get a call, like ‘yo you can be an alternate now, we’re gonna bring you on as an alternate.’ So I thought perfect, I’ll take that. Make weight, make money, it’s easy. The following week, you’re officially in and I’m like, ‘oh man, I’m fighting Rory MacDonald.’ In my head, I already knew. And a couple days later they tell me I’m gonna fight Rory, so I was pumped.”
MacDonald has been on the professional scene since 2005 and has been a top contender since Millender got started in 2013.
The two never crossed paths previously, however, Curtis Millender always had his sights set on the Canadian.
A target since the beginning
“I’ve always been at welterweight,” Millender said. “Since the beginning of my career, he’s been on top, so I’ve always talked about wanting to fight him and testing myself against him. Not as a fan, just as a competitor, like I know I can beat this dude.”
Neither man has fought under the PFL banner since their signings. But Millender has stepped inside the cage twice since MacDonald’s last performance.
The 33-year-old was 1-1 in those two fights and truly doesn’t believe that ring rust will come into play in this upcoming contest.
“I’m not one to really believe in ring rust,” Curtis Millender explained his thinking. “I feel like at a certain point, you’ve been doing this for so long, it’s second nature. You’re fighting every day at the gym, you’re training every day at the gym, you have over 15-20 fights, this should be second nature by now, so I’m not a big believer in ring rust. In all honesty, I don’t give a sh*t how he feels, this is the one I need, I’m coming for him.”
Curtis Millender is one of the heaviest hitters in the fight game. Of his 18 victories, six of them have come via knockout.
There are questions about the rest of his game, but his head striking coach, Eddie Cha at Fight Ready put a great philosophy into his head about ‘fear’.
Will Curtis Millender be ready for MacDonald?
“The tale with me is always the ground game. Is Curtis able to stuff the takedown? Is Curtis able to get up? Going out there to Fight Ready, doing the work at CSW, I know I’ve done enough work to be able to get back to my feet, to stay on my feet and there’s no way in hell he’s gonna stand in front of me or stand with me. Eddie Cha helped me realize the fear that I put in these guys’ hearts when it comes to the standup is real and if I can take away their one path to victory, they have to fight in fear the whole fight. I’m 100% confident.”
If he can put those heavy hands on MacDonald, who knows what will happen next?
The one fight that the ‘Red King’ is most remembered for is his blood bath of a bout with Robbie Lawler. Well, both men have not been the same since that fight and Millender thinks this favors him in some ways.
“That’s definitely an advantage for me,” Millender stated. “You get that nose broken, all those bad memories come back. You’ve gotta fight a fresh guy in front of you and still think about the things that other guys have done to you and I’m not gonna miss, I’m gonna keep hitting the same spot over and over again. I’m looking to make this path to the million dollars as easy as possible, so if I have to make sure you can’t come back for the next round or the semi’s then I’m gonna do it.”
After MacDonald’s draw against Jon Fitch under the Bellator banner, the 31-year-old stated, “I don’t know if I have that same drive to hurt people anymore.” Millender had never heard that statement before, but guess what? He liked it.
Belief to say the least
“That’s the first time I’ve heard of him saying that. That just made my confidence go through the roof because for this million dollars I can feed my kids forever, for a long time. I don’t care what I have to do to get it, I’ma get it. I’ll just say a prayer after.
“I’m putting Rory down. I have to put him down.”