Allen has been calling for a rematch with Strickland ever since his third-round TKO loss in November 2020. Curtis will now step in to face Allen on short notice this Saturday when he replaces Roman Dolidze, who himself was a replacement for Brad Tavares.
While many have used the quasi-rivalry between Strickland and Allen as a storyline for UFC Vegas’ middleweight bout, Curtis doesn’t see the matchup as a rivalry at all.
In fact, he believes any heat is coming solely from Allen’s side.
“It’s such a one-way street on that,” Curtis told MMA Fighting while appearing on We Got Next. “Brendan did an interview and he said something like he’s the most hated guy at Xtreme [Couture], nobody at Xtreme cares about Brendan Allen. Even Sean is like, ‘Alright, whatever.’ He’s got a such a weird hate boner for Sean, and Sean doesn’t ever mention Brendan Allen. I don’t think he even crosses his mind.
“No one cares about you, Brendan. And Sean lives inside his head rent free, unfortunately. I think he believes there’s more of a rivalry than there actually is. It’s cartoonish almost, where he’s plotting against Sean and Sean has no thoughts about him. Nobody does. Good fighter, yeah, but no one at Xtreme is like, ‘We have to go get Brendan Allen back.’ So weird flex, bro. But no one here really cares about Brendan Allen.”
Curtis finally got his opportunity to compete in the UFC and made the most of it in his octagon debut, stopping Phil Hawes in the first round at UFC 268 this past month. “The Action Man” enters his second promotional appearance just a few short weeks after his incredible showing at Madison Square Garden and feels he has a tougher matchup on paper, yet somehow a more favorable one than he had with Hawes.
“I think it’s a harder fight than Phil on paper, but I think the fight is better for me,” Curtis said. “I think Phil was a worse matchup stylistically, but I think when we think about how this will play out, this one is technically harder.
“I think that I’m a better wrestler than Brendan Allen. I think my wrestling can stop his wrestling, but I think he’s a better striker and better grappler than Phil, so it presents more dangers all around. But I like the matchup, honestly. The way he fought Sean, and we fight differently, but we’re both forward pressure fighters. Brendan is really good coming forward, he’s not great off of his back foot. He’s definitely more of a point fighter. I think it’s a hard matchup, but I match up really well against him. I’m really hard to submit and I have a pace that’s tough to match over time.”
Typically a welterweight, Curtis — who has already signed a new contract with the UFC in just his second fight — plans on sticking around at 185 for as long as he continues to win. Curtis feels he’s playing “with house money” competing at middleweight and he’s more than happy to keep gambling on himself in that aspect.
As far as his fight this Saturday goes, Curtis feels he learned a lot from Strickland’s victory over Allen and predicts that the result will be very similar.
“Third-round TKO,” Curtis predicted. “I’m comfortable in Vegas. I love fighting here, I train here, I’m in shape. Yeah, third-round TKO. I’m not gonna get finished and I’ll be able to drag this deep and make it ugly.”