“When I started, I wanted to be in the UFC; I wanted to be a UFC fighter, ”he said. “This has always been my ultimate goal and I won’t do anything that distracts me from achieving this goal. Since then, I have just moved forward. Everything I did was for a singular purpose. All I did was go to the UFC and be a UFC fighter.
Curtis lost his debut by split decision to Brandon Pinkston. It wouldn’t be his last setback, but there were many more triumphs than losses as he made his way through the regional circuit. In June 2018, he was 18-5 years old and he received an invitation to participate in the second season of Dana White’s Contender series.
He won, knocking out Sean Lally in the third round. He did not get a UFC contract and he retired from the sport. By January 2019 he was back, but after two wins he has lost three games in a row and walked away, sparking a heart-to-heart conversation with Kristopher.
“What are we going to do?” Kristopher asked.
“I’ll do something else,” Curtis replied.
“You’re right. What am I going to do?”
Curtis laughs about it now, but back then it wasn’t all about laughing. A lot of blood, sweat and tears had gone into his fighting career, not to mention the sacrifices he had made to pursue that dream.
“Honestly, I stopped watching UFC fights for a long time,” he said. “I refused to watch him because he killed me. You see guys come up with four fights, you see guys from the Contender series winning over decisions and getting signed, guys lacking in weight and getting signed. I knocked out a guy with a hook kick I wasn’t signed. So you see these guys fighting, and it kills you. It absolutely kills you.
But what was Curtis going to do? He was a fighter. The fighters are fighting.
“This is what I have been doing for all these years,” he said. “I didn’t have a regular job; all I did was practice. Train, train, train, be a professional, day in and day out, seven days a week.
Curtis returned in January 2020 with a fourth-round stoppage of Darren Smith Jr. The goal, as always, has remained unchanged.