Chris Curtis on returning from retirement and why he signed with ARES FC

After an emotional rollercoaster with the PFL, Chris Curtis is excited for his new chapter with ARES FC.

This past October, Curtis (22-8) fell short in the PFL’s first playoff event – on a night when he twice retired from competition. After losing to Magomed Magomekerimov, Curtis announced his retirement on Instagram.

But shortly after, Magomekerimov fell ill and Curtis got the call to replace him. Just 11 seconds into their fight, Ray Cooper III clipped Curtis with a perfectly placed right hook that knocked him out cold for the first time in his career. That prompted him to retire for the second time.

But Curtis decided to return from retirement in January, a decision his head coach helped talk him into.

“It’s a combination of things,” Curtis told MMA Junkie. “John Wood, my head coach – we’ve had a lot of conversations about it, and he’s like, you’ve got to remember, in this last year, I’ve changed my entire life, I moved across the country, I’ve changed gyms. This was a very hard year for me. I went through a lot last year. So he’s like, ‘You went out there and you didn’t get what you wanted.’ But he’s like, ‘You’ve been fighting an uphill battle all year – give yourself a solid chance.’

“And for me, I had never been knocked out. So like, that was probably the biggest blow to my pride ever, and that one hurt.”

Curtis rebounded with a win over Darren Smith Jr. for Canadian promotion Fight Night, a win that helped him seek validation after the knockout.

“It was a much-needed step,” Curtis said. “I had to do some rebuilding, mentally get there. And so for me, it was just nice to get in there to see: OK, I got caught, it was a good shot, it was a very lucky shot – I got caught. It’s OK. I can go out there. I can get hit. I’m fine. I’m thinking, so it was just one of those things – you have to shake the nerves off.”

He recently signed with new Afro-French MMA promotion ARES FC and was scheduled to face Nassourdine Imavov at ARES FC 2 before the coronavirus outbreak postponed the event.

Curtis said signing with ARES FC was an easy decision.

“They offered me really good money, and I was like, ‘I am down.’ I am a mercenary, first and foremost. They offered me a good contract, so I was down. They’re fighting everywhere. So I’m like, ‘Well, I’m not going to chase the UFC anymore, and I’m going to be 33 in a few months, so I might as well have the fun that I can.

“ARES is really serious about expanding, and they’re making a big presence, so I think it’ll be fun to be a part of that because as soon as I get the belt, they’ll have all these new opportunities and I plan on being the first (ARES) welterweight champion, anyway.”