UFC's Curtis Millender attributes lack of pressure as reason for recent losses

After a hot start to his UFC career, Curtis Millender has suffered back-to-back setbacks – and he thinks he knows why.

He lost to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos by first-round submission at UFC on ESPN+ 4, then lost a unanimous decision to Belal Muhammad in his most recent outing at UFC 236, via unanimous decision.

Millender (17-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) said he could have done more in the losses.

“I think just the pressure,” Millender told MMA Junkie Radio (go to the 37:41 mark in the video above). “Obviously, I didn’t get to pressure dos Santos at all. With Belal, that first round and a half, I was tagging him, I was moving forward, walking him down. Not being predictable, hand speed, mixing it up pretty good and the second I stopped, he took over.”

Millender got the attention of many in his UFC debut when he took out veteran and former title challenger Thiago Alves in the first round at UFC Fight Night 126. He followed that up with wins over Max Griffin and Siyar Bahadurzada.

He used his striking and range to tee off and largely controlled the fights in his first three wins in the UFC. Technique, diverse striking, and pace setting helped in those wins.

“That was a big reason why I was able to win those first three fights,” Millender said. “I walked everybody down. The times I was taken down was when I was taking breaks and not pushing the pressure, so I think that’s the one thing I would have changed. We’d be having a totally different talk right now.”

So where did it all go wrong in his recent losses? Millender thinks he’s been underestimating his cardio, which has led to moments of inactivity, allowing his opponents to take the fight to him.

“It’s hard to pinpoint it – my cardio is always there,” Millender said. “I work hard. I’m always running. I’m always doing sprints. But I definitely doubt my cardio. Sometimes I get in that funk and go, ‘OK, let me take a little bit of a break and that way I don’t gas myself out.’ And then when you look at my fights, I don’t have a really high output anyway, so I’m not going to gas myself out. That’s just not my style of fighting, anyway. So I definitely second-guess my cardio. But once I get over that, I’ll be fine.”

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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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