Ohio native Chris Curtis (14-5) is set to defend his CES MMA welterweight title this Friday, as the “Action Man” will face challenger Wilfredo Santiago Jr. (5-2) in the main event at CES MMA 42. The event goes down in Lincoln, Rhode Island and airs live on AXS TV.
Curtis, who has spent time in California training with Team Quest in preparation for the fight, won the title with a first round submission via strikes over Gil de Freitas at CES MMA 32 last January. He was then slated to defend the title against UFC veteran Nah-Shon Burrell at CES MMA 34 last April, but Burrell missed weight and the bout turned into a non-title fight. Burrell was awarded a controversial split decision win, but Curtis kept his belt in the non-title fight.
Curtis has competed just once in MMA since the loss to Burrell, a victory over Leo Bercier at FFC 24 last June in Florida.
The 29-year-old striker also moved his pro boxing record to 2-0 with a TKO win over Marcus Maudling at an event in Cincinnati in December.
Curtis feels confident about the matchup with Santiago.
“I’m really hard to hit,” Curtis told MyMMANews.com. “Even when you do hit me, I’ve got a damned good chance. It’s going to be a hard night of him trying to cut the cage off, him trying to beat me on angles and land that punch…I’m going to give him trouble.”
While he has dipped his toe in the boxing waters, the former Bellator “Fight Master” contestant still has his sights set on making it to the pinnacle of MMA.
“I would love to be in the top fifteen in the UFC but I’ve been struggling to get there,” Curtis said. “I’ve beaten guys who’ve got that call, I’ve beat guys who’ve done well. I’m going to keep doing everything I can to impressively win fights and work my way towards the top of my division.”
CES MMA 42 also features former Ohio State wrestler and “The Ultimate Fighter 19” contestant Patrick Walsh (10-2) in a 215-pound catchweight bout against Dirlei Broenstrup (8-2). Check out the full card below.
Chris Curtis (C) vs. Wilfredo Santiago Jr. – Welterweight Title
Luis Felix vs. Dawond Pickney
David Baxter vs. Kody Nordby
Kenny Foster vs. Joe Pingitore
Dirlei Broenstrup vs. Pat Walsh
Josh LaBerge vs. Saul Almeida
Kris Moutinho vs. Lloyd Reyes
Marquis Brewster vs. Cody Hier
Gary Balletto Jr. vs. Chris Torres
Chad Kelly vs. Richard Santiago
Maria Rivera vs. Jessica Sotack