With questions surrounding what is next for UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, Curtis Blaydes did his best to ensure that his name is in the title picture.
Blaydes entered as the third-ranked heavyweight in the UFC, and he left UFC Raleigh after earning a statement win over Junior Dos Santos. He stopped the No. 4 contender via second-round TKO (1:06) in the card’s main event.
“Going up against a guy like Junior, a legitimate legend, one of the OGs of the sport — man, just to share the Octagon with him was an honor,” Blaydes told Daniel Cormier in the cage after his win. “But to get the W, as the main event, and the way we did it, I couldn’t ask for nothing better.”
The 28-year-old contender also confirmed what most already expected after he earned his third-straight victory.
“You know what I want,” Blaydes said. “I want that title shot. You know I’m next. I showed you I got the wrestling, I showed you I got the hands. I don’t know what else I gotta do if I want a title shot. That’s what I want.”
Often the wrestler, Blaydes did his best to show his dimensions in the main event bout.
Dos Santos struck first with a right hand, and Blaydes was quick to go after a takedown. Dos Santos, prepared for the approach from the wrestler, defended the attempt.
The heavyweights continued to trade on the feet, neither landing cleanly. Blaydes shot once again halfway through the round, but would only get Dos Santos against the cage. A punch to the groin by Blaydes forced a stop in the action momentarily before Dos Santos shook it off and continued the round.
Blaydes began to find his range with a minute left in the opening round. He once again shot a takedown but couldn’t land.
The round finished with Dos Santos throwing a Hail Mary uppercut that didn’t find a home.
Blaydes tagged Dos Santos just 20 seconds into the second round of the fight, but he didn’t follow up with anything significant for the time being. He opted to stay patient, and the approach paid off.
Blaydes found an opening and took it moments later. An overhand right rocked Dos Santos, and Blaydes pushed on the gas and went after the former heavyweight champion. It only took a few unanswered blows for referee Dan Miragliotta to step in and save the still-standing but clearly dazed Dos Santos.
Third-ranked Curtis "Razor" Blaydes (13-2, 1 NC) reasserts his heavyweight standing, scrambling former champ Junior dos Santos' synapses in round two! The Elevation rep rides three straight wins and is 8-1 (1 NC) in his last 10. All 10 of his finishes are knockouts. #UFCRaleigh pic.twitter.com/kH8CSYkoOd
— Kyle Johnson (@VonPreux) January 26, 2020
Blaydes is now 13-2-0, 1 NC as a professional. His only two losses have been to No. 2 heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou.
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.