At long last, Curtis Blaydes has a chance to avenge the singular blemish on his professional record.
On Saturday, November 24, he will step into the octagon with Francis Ngannou. “The Predator” defeated Blaydes by doctor stoppage in the second round of their first meeting. This time around, Blaydes is up against a less invincible looking-version of “The Predator.” Ngannou comes into this fight after two very telling losses. If Blaydes can get past him, the title shot is — or rather, should be — in his future.
When the typical MMA fan thinks of UFC heavyweight domination, chances are, the name Curtis Blaydes is not at the tip of their tongue. Blaydes is not the focus of the media very often and he is promoted by the UFC even less.
What we have here is yet another case of a world-class fighter and dominant wrestler not getting the credit he deserves due to his fighting style. The general population wants to see fighters, especially heavyweights, wing huge punches at each other’s heads. When there is a big man like Blaydes who can stop that type of striker with his pressure, he may not receive as much attention despite elite talent.
In this case, it is important to go back and remind yourself of the body of work Curtis Blaydes has put in during his nearly three years in the UFC.
After losing his debut to Ngannou, Blaydes has won five in a row (six if you include the no contest due to a positive marijuana test) and been nothing short of dominant during that stretch. A five-fight winning streak is enough to warrant a title shot on its own, but who else deserves it if not Blaydes? Of course, Miocic deserves a rematch, but the rest of the division is cleared out. Everyone else in the top 10, with the exception of Oleynik, who Blaydes defeated, has lost one of their last two fights.
Blaydes’ three most recent fights were extra impressive. First, he stopped submission master, Alexey Oleynik at the request of the doctor. Blaydes went on to dominate a world-class striker in Mark Hunt. He grinded him out on the ground to secure a unanimous decision win. Finally, he turned in an even more convincing performance, stopping another K-1 striking legend and former UFC title challenger, Alistair Overeem, with devastating elbows from the top.
With this kind of resume, especially in the heavyweight division, who could deny Blaydes’ worthiness of a title shot?
A look ahead
Of course, Curtis Blaydes would love to fight Daniel Cormier, but the way things are looking, DC is going to fight Brock Lesnar, or maybe Jon Jones, then walk away from the sport. The fans will be deprived of this matchup of master wrestlers unless something drastic happens. We also must for the small chance that Lesnar takes Cormier out and decides to defend the belt. This could leave Blaydes out of the conversation yet again if Miocic or Cain Velasquez jump into the picture.
If Blaydes avenges his loss to Francis Ngannou on Saturday, we will have to see how the rest of the division shakes out. The most likely scenario is that the next heavyweight title fight will be for a vacant belt. In this case, anything other than Curtis Blades vs. Stipe Miocic for the undisputed title would be disrespectful. These are by far the two men most deserving of the title shot.
The return of Cain Velasquez is exciting, but when in his absence, Miocic made history and Blaydes took out some of the best the UFC has to offer. Superfights and Brock Lesnar sightings are fun, but at some point the theatrics have to stop.
After Daniel Cormier’s retirement and a potential Curtis Blaydes win, he and Miocic will be the two best heavyweights in the world. They need to fight.
Nick graduated with an environmental science degree and is a freelance writer, covering anything from fighting to forestry. He is a washed up swimmer and a sports and comedy enthusiast. Nick can be contacted through his linked social media.