Curtis Millender is 7-0 as a professional. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Curtis Millender enters Bellator 134 "British Invasion" as a relatively unknown commodity, but with an upset victory over one of the promotion’s hottest prospects, that anonymity could disappear in a hurry.
The unbeaten Californian will be the underdog in his Feb. 27 matchup against Michael Page, and perhaps to some, a steppingstone to bigger and better things for the flamboyant Englishman known as “Venom.”
That’s just fine with Millender, who understands that his opponent has earned the recognition he has received thus far.
“I don’t mind it. He’s put in the time and put in the work already, so he deserves that,” Millender told Sherdog.com. “I just have to go out and show everybody I’m better than him. The reason everybody will be talking about me is because I earned it.”
Millender, 28, has been wrestling since he was 8 years old and boxing since he was 10, so he’s no combat sports novice. The Reign Training Center/NOC Fight Team representative is also well-versed in winning, compiling a 7-0 record while competing exclusively for the California-based Fight Club OC promotion since turning pro in 2013.
He even knows a little something about delivering a sound bite:
“I’m even courteous to my opponents,” he said when explaining the origin of his “Curtious” moniker. “I give them a loss on their record, and I won’t even charge them for it. It’s free.”
While that’s all well and good, Millender is facing an opponent who likely exceeds his previous level of competition, one who has a penchant for producing highlight-reel knockouts with a trademark creative flair.
But don’t think Millender hasn’t done his homework. In preparing for his Bellator debut, he enlisted the help of former Page kickboxing rival Raymond Daniels and flashy “TUF 17” knockout artist Uriah Hall. Daniel’s past experience against Page has proved useful, as has Hall’s knowledge of what it’s like to compete on a bigger stage.
“Those are fast, long guys [who] throw a lot of spinning kicks. I’m very much prepared,” Millender said. “I had a couple other guys try to emulate his style. I can ask people do it all the time, but it’s not gonna be the same as him in front of me.”
Millender is aware of Page’s sense of showmanship, as well, but he claims that he will not let any in-cage antics distract him. When Page goes into what sometimes resembles a dance routine, it’s supposed to make you mad. Understanding that intent is half the battle.
“I don’t feel disrespected or anything like that. It’s just a fight. You can’t get mad when your opponent tries to take you out of your game,” Millender said. “That’s what he’s trying to do; he’s trying to take you out of the game. If you let him do that, then you lose. Unfortunately for him, I do the same thing. I’m not gonna let him take me out of my game.”