UFC Heavyweight Curtis Blaydes isn’t exactly fired up over Jon Jones being gifted the winner of next month’s Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 2 title fight.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, with one being ‘I don’t care’ and ten being, ‘I’m like flaming hot mad,’ put me at like a three,” Blaydes (14-2, 1NC) told Cageside Press on Thursday, speaking at a virtual media day to promote UFC Vegas 19. event fight will see Blaydes go up against Derrick Lewis, and if he wins, it will be five victories in a row. “I get it. It’s Jon Jones. He puts asses in the seats. He’s a money fight. So I’m not mad. I get it. It’s just business.”
Back in November, prior to Blaydes vs. Lewis falling through at the 11th hour prior to UFC Vegas 15, “Razor” Blaydes had suggested he’d wait for the winner of any potential title fight. Now? The Illinois native doesn’t sound quite as sure. “We still don’t know yet. There isn’t anything that’s concrete, everything is fluid,” he noted. “That’s an option, but we don’t know for sure yet.”
Blaydes also addressed the idea that Lewis “just gets up” from takedowns. It’s a concept that’s been floated on the UFC’s own broadcasts, and it’s frankly not that simple. As Blaydes pointed out, “look at the guys he’s getting up against. He got up against Ilir Latifi, who’s a former light heavyweight, not the biggest guy in the world. He got up against Blagoy Ivanov, Blagoy’s not the best grappler in the round. He got up against 40-year old, 225lb Aleksei Oleinik, who was able to take him down and hold him down, and he didn’t actually get up. He came out the next round and KO’d him.”
Blaydes went on to say that “I think there’s a lot of variables that go into what allows him to get up. Guys’ weight, guys’ skillset, guys’ technique, and guys being over-aggressive hunting submissions.” But while Lewis allows opponents to get into prime submission spots so he can power up, pointed out Blaydes, “I’m not hunting those submissions. I’m looking to anchor. So the ‘just get up’ thing, that’s not going to be an option.”
Blaydes, of course, is know for his dominant, smothering wrestling. But he is confident in his hands, he later stated. It was a 2017 fight with Daniel Omielańczuk, in which the wrestler went 0 for 12 in the takedown department, that helped grow that confidence.
“People think because I wrestle, I don’t have hands or I’m not confident. It’s not that deep,” he added. “It’s just, I don’t like getting hit in the face. And if I can avoid that, I’m going to avoid it. If Derrick defends all my takedowns, then I’ll do what I did to Junior Dos Santos. But if he doesn’t, why wouldn’t I just take the takedowns and burn him out?”
“We know there’s an obvious hole in Derrick’s game,” Blaydes observed. “Why would I play into his strengths instead of playing to his weaknesses?”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 19 virtual media day scrum with Curtis Blaydes above! The event takes place Saturday, February 20 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.