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Chris Curtis enjoys sharing UFC 297 with good friend Sean Strickland but explains why ‘it kinda sucks’

TORONTO – Fighting on the same card as good friend and teammate Sean Strickland isn’t the ideal situation for Chris Curtis, but he’s making the most of it going into UFC 297.

Curtis (30-10 MMA, 4-2 UFC) is set to fight Marc-Andre Barriault (16-6 MMA, 5-5 UFC) on the pay-per-view main card of Saturday’s event at Scotiabank Arena, which is headlined by Strickland putting his middleweight title on the line against Dricus Du Plessis.

Although Curtis and Strickland are longtime veterans of the fight fame, this will mark of a new experience for the Xtreme Couture teammate. There are positives and negatives to the situation, Curtis said, but he’s doing his best to embrace it all.

“I think we’re far enough apart it’s not going to be too bad,” Curtis told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC 296 media day. “It’s cool. I don’t think we’ve ever fought on the same card before. It kinda sucks though because I prefer to have me in his corner. I prefer to be more supportive than I am now. But I’m a big boy. He’s a big boy. We’ll be fine. Honestly I kind of like it. I’m only probably up here right now (at media day) because Strickland’s headlining. I love being up here, but I’ll definitely ride the wake of The Strickland Show. It’s fun for me to see you guys have to deal with it. It’s fun being there on fight week and being so close to watch everyone else have to suffer.”

UFC 297 represents an important fight in the career of Curtis, 36. He’s winless in his past two octagon appearances, with his July fight at UFC 289 vs. Nassourdine Imavov ending in a no contest due to an accidental clash of heads, and his fight before that at UFC 287 in April ending in a unanimous decision loss after a fight-altering head butt in the second round.

In attempt to get back on the winning side, Curtis did his best to dial in his focus. He did the beginning portion of his camp at Factory X in Colorado before returning to Las Vegas, and also deleted all his social media accounts to limit all distractions heading into fight night.

“I’m someone who is very hard on himself,” Curtis said. “I’ve always been hard on myself. I’ve always wanted to be better than the guy next to me, even when I’m not. It eats me up inside. I think the big issue for me, the Nassourdine fight was such a dumb fight for me – all of my coaches and managers were like, ‘You should probably take some time after the Kelvin fight.’ It was a really hard camp mentally. Physically I was beat up from the camp, but more so than anything, mentally I was f*cking tired, bro. I was frustrated.

“I beat myself up that camp, then for it to go down that way in a fight that I thought came down to one moment in the second round, it freakin’ crushed me. To immediately go into another fight, everyone around me was like, ‘Chris, we should probably wait a little bit.’ But I’ve been known my entire life for making bad choices and not listening. Instead of taking time to refresh and come to grips with stuff, I’m like, ‘I’ll just jump back in and do sh*t.’

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 297.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie