Welcome to the UFC: Chris Curtis

Chris Curtis
Chris Curtis Credit: Mike McClory/Cageside Press

The UFC is back in New York City for the first time since 2019, with UFC 268 simply a huge card in Madison Square Garden. The two best welterweights in the world will face off in the main event, with champion Kamaru Usman fighting Colby Covington in a rematch from their first fight in 2019. In the co-main event is another rematch. Rose Namajunas fresh off knocking out Weili Zhang in April to win the strawweight title; that pair will do battle once again. Ahead of a stacked main card, there’s a slew of UFC debuts on the undercard. Chris Curtis was supposed to make his UFC debut last month on short notice against Phil Hawes (11-2). The fight never came together but now it will go down on this date.

Chris “The Action Man” Curtis
Standing at 5’10″
Fighting at 170 lbs (welterweight)
Fighting out of Las Vegas, Nevada, US
Training out of Xtreme Couture
A pro record of 26-8
14 KO/TKOs, 1 Submission

How will Curtis fare in the UFC:

It has been a long journey for Chris Curtis. He was 18-5 when he got his first chance at the UFC on the Contender Series in 2018. Although he won with a highlight-reel knockout he wasn’t signed, rather shockingly. He was then signed to the PFL in 2019 and went 1-3 losing three consecutive fights. Including getting knocked out for the first time in his career, by Ray Cooper III. After announcing his retirement, Curtis came back three months later and hasn’t lost since. He’s now won his last five fights.

From a technical standpoint, there aren’t many guys that can outbox Curtis. This isn’t boxing though as it’s MMA and Curtis has been doing it for a decade. Curtis does wrestle at times and holds his own grappling but on the feet is where he wants to be. He has his shoulders high protecting his chin and does a great job rolling with the punches. Not all the time do the punches roll off the chin though, so Curtis usually takes a few clean shots in a fight. Curtis has a good jab, a good one-two usually leading with an uppercut, and throws well to the body. It would be nice to see Curtis pick up his activity. His style is made for five-rounds since he likes to pick at his opponent and his pace breaks guys.

Curtis is 34 so now at his peak. Most likely the progression is over and is closer to regression. I definitely see him staying in the UFC for many years but a certain barrier will be tough to break through. You’ll probably see him lose fights by split decisions just because he won’t do enough early on. That can be because of him getting taken down a few times or held against the cage. It can also be him just not throwing enough and getting beat on output.
Striking: A
Kickboxing: C+
Clinch: B-
Wrestling: C
Grappling: C+
Striking Defense: B-
Takedown Defense: C+
Cardio: A
Biggest Strength: Boxing
Biggest Weakness: Takedown defense

How he matches up with Hawes:

Hawes has it all — he’s very athletic, has excellent wrestling, and has power in his hands. On the feet, Curtis does have a slight advantage. He’s more technical and throws more in general. Hawes is a problem as he’s the more explosive, athletic, and has much more power. Hawes most likely will wrestle in this fight being the much bigger guy. Curtis is a natural welterweight and he’s giving up a lot of muscle. Where Curtis will excel is later in the fight. Hawes doesn’t have the deepest gas tank and Curtis can take over as the fight goes. Most likely size will play a factor with Hawes at least being able to win rounds one and two.