The Film Room: Curtis Millender

By Kevin Wilson Mar 7, 2019
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Curtis Millender will put his career-best nine-fight winning streak on the line when he faces Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in the UFC Fight Night 146 co-main event on Saturday at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas. “Curtious Curtis” owns a perfect 3-0 record under the Ultimate Fighting Championship flag, and a win over Zaleski dos Santos would all but assure him a spot in the promotion’s Top 15 rankings at 170 pounds.

Millender steps into the spotlight in this installment of The Film Room.

Millender is reminiscent of a less-polished Jon Jones, with a little bit of Anderson Silva in him. No one can compare him to two of the greatest fighters of all-time, but they do have similar styles and methods of fighting. Millender usually uses his length to stay on the outside and pick apart opponents from a safe distance, but he will blitz forward with combos when the time is right. Most of his punches are simple one-twos, and because his reach is so long, he can land them while being out of range of the opponent’s returning strikes. He also loves his lead hook and uses it to set up the right hand or to get the opponent to block his head so he can go to the body. It would be good to see him use more kicks just to mix up things and make him less predictable, but so far, his hands have been enough to get the job done.

Millender has shown flashes of Jones-like kicks to the shins and thighs to keep opponents at bay, but he does not use them nearly enough. To take full advantage of his size and reach advantages, he needs to use a lot more of these kicks and jabs to dissuade opponents from coming forward, all while forcing them to fight at his range. He does effectively use the jab to the body, but overall, Millender does not utilize these distance strikes enough for someone with his build.

Something Millender and Zaleski dos Santos use more than anybody else in the division are knees to the head and body. Since Millender is so tall compared to other welterweights, his knees have a much shorter path to the target, so he will throw them at a range most fighters would not even consider because they know they have no chance to land. He also likes to close the distance and trap opponents against the cage with flying knees, and he will use a switch knee as a counter when opponents rush in.

Millender usually plods forward with one-twos and occasionally rushes forward with a combo, which means he does not get to work on the counter often. Despite looking uncomfortable when fighting off of his back foot, he has shown a nice counter straight right at times. He definitely needs to work on his footwork when backing up and add something other than the counter straight right to his game, but he is proficient in all aspects of striking.

Millender defends strikes in much the same way the aforementioned Silva does. He is visibly uncomfortable when backing up, so he relies on taking punches on the arms and slapping others away with his lead hand. Similar to Jones, Millender likes to use his reach and simply place his lead hand on the opponent’s head or shoulder while backing up to create a barrier for the oncoming punches. So far, nobody has managed to push past his length and forced him to fight on the inside; the first fighter who does will probably expose some major flaws in his game. Zaleski dos Santos can be quite aggressive at times, so it will be interesting to see how Millender deals with the pressure and if he can keep the fight at his preferred range. Advertisement


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