Despite the insanity in the UFC heavyweight division currently, Curtis Blaydes embraces natural storyline between himself and Francis Ngannou.
Denver, CO — As UFC Denver was unfolding over the weekend, one half of the main event at the upcoming UFC Beijing card (UFC Fight Night 141) stopped by to talk about his headlining scrap against Francis Ngannou. Curtis Blaydes is a man with a big opportunity heading into the Beijing card is just a few weeks, in a rematch of the only loss of his pro career, which came by doctor’s stoppage two years ago at UFC Fight Night 86.
Blaydes (10-1, 1NC), now on a four fight win streak at heavyweight, has a lot on the line in China, where he’ll head out a little early both to take in the sights (the Great Wall is on the itinerary) and acclimate. Not to mention “get back on a sleep schedule. I already have an idea of what to do.”
In regards to his prior loss to Ngannou, he’s not losing any sleep over it. “I wouldn’t say it kept me up at night, but I knew it would happen eventually,” he explained. “I knew that it was inevitable. I knew he’d be around, I’d be around, and I know the UFC likes natural stories like this, we already have a natural storyline.”
By that, Blaydes means that “it’s not fake. We had a fight, he won, but I didn’t get to finish it. So there’s a little bit of redemption that I want to get.”
While he admits that a loss is a loss, and it’s on his record as such, “if there’s any loss that you don’t lose any sleep over, it’s that one. It wasn’t the referee’s decision, it wasn’t the judges’ decision, it was the doctor.” A cut saw Blaydes ruled unable to continue after the second round.
He’s a changed fighter these days, however. The biggest different being “my confidence. I went into that fight with just a jab. A jab and a double leg. Now I have so many more tools.”
Heavyweight has become an interesting world since Ngannou and Blaydes first met two years ago. Daniel Cormier moved up in weight to capture the title from Stipe Miocic, then defended it against Derrick Lewis just a couple of weeks ago at UFC 230. On that fight, “it’s what I expected,” said Blaydes. “I knew it was going to be a slaughter. Derrick Lewis had no business being in that cage with him, at all.”
Blaydes feels he does have a case for a title shot, but knows the division is “a mess right now. I haven’t really been able to project past this fight, because who knows what’s going to happen. Who knows if Brock [Lesnar] gets out of the USADA testing pool, if Jon Jones bumps up to heavyweight. Now I’m hearing Rumble Johnson might be back. Who knows what’s going on.”
For time the being, however, the focus is on Francis Ngannou. Blaydes feels that “he’s probably in the hole right now. 0-2 after being the hotshot, it’s got to be a dark, dark place.” However, he’s hoping a focused Ngannou shows up in Beijing. “I just hope, I want him to be his best. I don’t want any excuses out of his camp, or the fans.”