Although you never get a second chance to make a first impression, fighters who lost their promotional debut get an opportunity at redemption. Welterweight prospect Curtis “Curtious” Millender (7-1 MMA, 0-1 Bellator) will do just that when he faces seasoned veteran Fernando Gonzalez at Bellator 137, May 15, at Pechanga Resort and Casino at Temecula, Calif.
Millender lost his Bellator debut against Brennan Ward back in February. He was originally scheduled to fight British fighter Michael Page, who withdrew from the fight on short notice.
Millender took some time out of his schedule to speak with MMA Latest News’ Al Stover.
Al Stover: Hello Curtis how’s everything going?
Curtis Millender: I’m good how are you?
AS: I’m good, it’s the weekend. You have a big fight coming up against Fernando Gonzalez at Bellator 137. How’s camp going for you?
CM: Camp is going great. I feel like I’m in great shape and working on all of the things I need to work on and making sure that I have the tools I have are very sharp.
AS: I know some fighters don’t like to divulge training stuff before hand, but what are some of those tools you are fine tuning and sharpening.
CM: I’m just making sure my punches are crisp and that I’m not making the same mistakes as last time. I’m sharpening my angles and putting together my punches a little bit.
AS: Let’s go back a little bit. You’ve been fighting for a couple of years now. What got you interesting in pursuing mixed martial arts.
CM: I’ve been boxing and wrestling since I was a kid. Growing up watching wrestling, boxing and all of these combat sports. I knew it was something I wanted to do. I really just want to be the best in the world and fighting is what I am pursuing in being the best in the world in.
AS: Right on and when you say wrestling, were a fan of professional wrestling? Amateur? A little of both?
CM: Both. I was a huge WWE fan and still am.
AS: I am too. Some MMA fans they want to keep wrestling and mixed martial arts seperate but what I’ve noticed is a lot of fighters are big pro wrestling fans. You won your first seven fights. You got to make your Bellator debut. It didn’t quite go as planned but what was it like making to such a big stage so early in your career?
CM: It was a blessing and I took it as that I knew I had worked hard to get where I was. I’ve been a pro for two years but I’ve been boxing and wrestling since I was eight years old — almost 20 years. This is something I’ve been working my whole life for. I put the work in and I got a level to where I wanted to be faster than most, but that’s only because of my work ethic.
AS: Work ethic goes really far in anything, not just in athletics but life in general. Your Bellator debut had a chance in plans. You were supposed to fight Michael Page then fought Brennan Ward. Did the change force you to adjust your game plan too much?
CM: Not too much. I’m a professional. I’ve fought guys in my first seven fights with the same modus operandi. They want to take me down. I did underestimate Ward’s speed, not his hand speed but his foot speed. He’s explosive coming off the block, I kind of underestimated that. He caught me making a mistake and capitalized on it so my hat’s off to him. He was the better man that night but I’m going to keep winning these fights and hopefully get a shot back at him. Right now my focus is on Fernando Gonzalez.
AS: Some guys like to watch film on their opponents. Fernando has a lot of experience under his belt. Are you doing anything specific to prepare for him?
CM: I have guys that I train with that have a similar style as he does. I watch a lot of video and have done a lot of studying. You can’t always go off of what you see on video because the guys he’s fighting aren’t like me. It’s going to be an adjustment for the both of us. Come May 15, I’m gonna show why I have this contract, why I’m fighting for Bellator and I’m going to be one of the best in the world.
AS: Especially in a division that’s had a changing of the guard. Douglas Lima is the champion. You’ve talked about avenging your loss down the road but is there anyone else you have on the radar.
CM: I still want to fight Michael Page. That’s still on my mind. I would love to have him next after Fernando. But whatever Bellator gives me, I’m down for. Losing was one of the worst things I’ve felt and never want to feel that again. Good luck to everyone else in the division, they’re going to need it.
AS: I just remembered this. You’ve fought in a ring and in a cage. Some fighters like Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Fedor Emelianenko have talked about the difficult adjusting from fighting in a ring to a cage but what has been your experience? You’ve probably trained a lot in a cage though.
CM: There wasn’t much of a difference. I like to be in the center of the mat whether it’s in the cage or the ring. It doesn’t really bother me. Actually I prefer to fight in a cage. I have more room to move, I can circle more and I don’t have to back into a corner. I like it better.
AS: What are some of the things you’ve learned in the last couple of years.
CM: Just to stay humble and work hard. Those are things my coaches make sure I know. It can all go away in a moment. Stay humble, stay focused and move forward. Keep your eye on the prize. I have a family to take care of and I have to make sure that I’m doing the right thing and win these fights.
AS: You said you’re a huge fan of WWE. Many athletes go back and forth between MMA and professional wrestling. Any chance of seeing you in the squared circle down the road?
CM: That would be dope. I would love that, and get in there. Wrestling in the WWE would be fun and another one of those childhood dreams I’ve accomplished.
AS: Thank you Curtis. Is there anyone you want to thank or give a shoutout to?
CM: I want to thank my team. Today was the last day at Reign Training Center. We closed up shop today. Everyone at the Reign Training Center. Mark Munoz, I want to thank him for all of the time and effort he’s put into the gym so we all have somewhere he’s train. The NOC Fight Team, Coach Billy, Mike Harris, all of my sponsors and everybody.
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Exclusive: Jalin Turner vs Noah Tillis set for Bellator LA in January
Bellator LA: Douglas Lima vs Rory MacDonald, has just had another entertaining fight added as two talented prospects Jalin Turner and Noah Tillis are set to meet in a lightweight bout. Sources close to the fight confirmed the news to MMA Latest earlier this morning.
Jalin “The Tarantula” Turner makes his return to the Bellator cage for the first time since January 2017, where he defeated Gabriel Green by knockout, in an exciting fight that only lasted 36 seconds. Since the fight, Turner has gone 2-1 where he defeated Paradise Vaovasa by KO, at Tachi PF 31, before dropping his next fight to Richard LeRoy by TKO, at CFX 8. Turner bounced back from the loss by beating Vytautas Sadauskas by submission, at KOTC: Never Quit, back in September.
Noah Tillis is currently coming off of a 9-second submission victory against Jeff Carson, at Gladiator Challenge: American Pride, back in July. The “Submission Magician” has amassed a professional record of 3-2 with three victories coming by submission, DQ, and a TKO due to injury. His two losses coming by way of TKO and decision.
It is unclear where the fight will be featured, but it is assumed it will take place on the undercard. The potential brawl represents a stiff challenge for either man, as well as an opportunity to make some noise in an always deep lightweight division.
The only other fight currently announced on the card is the main event between current Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima and former UFC title challenger, Rory MacDonald. Bellator LA: Lima vs MacDonald is set to take place on Saturday, January 20th, in Los Angeles, Calfornia, at the Forum.
Anthony “PrettyBoy” Taylor wants to knockout Trey Branch then fight Brian Moore in Bellator on St. Patricks Day
Going from postlim fights in Bellator to a co-main event and then a main card fight after with such little professional experience isn’t something you’d hear of very often in the slightest. In this case Anthony “PrettyBoy” Taylor is the exception, who in only his third professional fight went to Ireland as part of the co-main event for a fight with James Gallagher. Taylor became well known to many in the build-up to that fight for being so outspoken and quite an entertainer, something he carries with him to the cage.
Anthony Taylor now has himself a fight lined up in a regional show near his home in California at California Fighting Championships. This will be his first time fighting back in America since May 2016. His last two bouts were in Europe as part of Bellator’s expansion into Europe. Following two losses he now hopes to get back in the win column in front of a home crowd. Taking this fight as a tune off fight Anthony is confident he won’t be touched by his opponent Trey Branch.
“Well, I’m taking this fight because Bellator said I’ll be fighting next year for overseas and it will be a good tune off fight for me. I think of trey like any other fighter. Just a guy who’s not going to touch me nor beat me.”
His opponent Trey Branch is jumping up from flyweight for this fight, Anthony believes he’s going to dominate his opponent and knock him out with ease. Now having 3 career losses coming via submission, he is not worried about his ground game, guaranteeing it was improved from training with some of the top fighters in Bellator.
“I believe I’m going to overpower him and KO him. He’s coming up from 125lb to fight me which I stated to the world on Bellator that I’m the strongest 45er in the world!! And as far as my ground game, it’d be covered and it’s great. Thanks to AJ McKee, Baby Slice, Joey Davis and Aaron Pico. My ground game is great and up there to the level, as there’s”
Looking ahead to next year when he competes in Bellator again, Taylor has his eyes set on a big fight in a return to Irish soil.
“Well Bellator loves me and I proved them that I belong there. I haven’t been told when I was fighting but I hope it’s back in Ireland, and maybe on St. Patricks day and hopefully I’ll fight Brian Moore because me and him been wanting to fight the longest.”
As a training partner for AJ McKee, Taylor was very pleased with how the fight went down, claiming it was a simple enough fight for his teammate that apparently didn’t train much for the fight. Suffering a loss on the initial trip to the emerald isle, “PrettyBoy” wants to come back and take home a win next time around.
“Oh man it was an easy fight for AJ, he only trained 2 weeks for that Brian Moore fight” he laughs “but absolutely it would be a great show if I was also on the show me and James alone still holds the record of views internationally and I’m looking to come back and taking what’s mines which is that W”
The win against Brian Moore could now potentially line up a fight between McKee and James Gallagher, fight fans have long sought after. Having fought against James and training with McKee on the regular Taylor isn’t convinced that Gallagher is ready for the AJ just yet. He also had some words about SBG fighters who were calling out Baby Slice.
“James is not ready for AJ. And people calling out slice since he’s new in the game. Why are sbg guys not calling out Joey Davis?? They are all talk and think that they’re better than everyone.”
With a win on Saturday, Anthony Taylor thinks it will kick him off to a series of consecutive wins that could ultimately land him in a fight with Emmanuel Sanchez.
“Yes it will start off (Saturday) and I believe it will set me up tremendously. I’m only getting better and I plan on winning fights in Bellator and then taking out Emanuel Sanchez. I do not like him, I hate him”
“I don’t like his style and he’s always hating on my teammates so I want his head” he added
Away from the fight scene, Anthony is pleased with the life that he’s got set up for himself with his newfound love since joining Bellator as he now aims to break into the movie industry too.
“Man it’s been great I now have a wonderful woman in my life so I’m happy. I’m acting too, trying to get into the movies industry and God has blessed me which so much love”
You can follow Anthony Taylor on all his social media accounts to keep an eye out for all his upcoming fight information and results.
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