London, England — Heavyweight Curtis Blaydes heads into UFC London this Saturday, where he’ll look to play spoiler against hometown favorite Tom Aspinall.
Aspinall isn’t just the favorite with the British fans — he’s the odds-on favorite with Las Vegas bookmakers as well. It’s the first time in his career that Blaydes (16-3, 1NC) has been an underdog.
“The Vegas odds, they don’t matter,” Blaydes said during the UFC London media day on Wednesday. “This is the first time, but I’m not undefeated. Odds don’t mean nothing.”
Blaydes believes Aspinall stands apart from the “standard” fighter in the heavyweight division.
“He’s been very impressive. He’s not your standard big, slow, plodding heavyweight,” Blaydes observed. “He throws combinations, he’s athletic, he has a bounce. He’s a respectable opponent, and a win over him is legitimate. It’s not like, some guys you beat, you like, I’m way, way, way, way better than you. You have no reason being in the octagon with me. He belongs in the octagon. He’s legit.”
As legit as a win over Aspinall may be, however, Blaydes does not expect to land a title shot with a win this Saturday. Instead, he foresees being matched up with the winner of another highly anticipated heavyweight match-up.
“I’ll be honest, a win over Tom puts me waiting for the winner of Ciryl Gane [versus Tai Tuivasa]. That’s why the UFC set up these fights,” stated Blaydes. Gane vs. Tuivasa takes place on September 3, atop UFC Paris. “We knew this back in February when Tom fought, Tuivasa fought, I fought. They were setting this up six months in advance. I’ll probably get the winner of that fight, then the winner of that fight will get a title shot most likely.”
There’s another fight that could throw a wrench in the works in terms of a title shot at heavyweight: the pending arrival of Jon Jones in the weight class. “Bones” is expected to make his debut at heavyweight sometime later this year, likely against Stipe Miocic.
Blaydes shot down talk of that fight as quickly as it arose.
“I don’t care about that. I’m tired of talking about that. This isn’t shade, I don’t want you guys to write ‘oh Blaydes is talking sh*t about Jon Jones.’ I don’t care,” the heavyweight insisted. “I’m tired of hearing about someone who’s not officially a heavyweight. Until he steps on the scale and it says 240 or whatever, he’s not a heavyweight, so I don’t want to discuss it.”
For all the talk of fighting in enemy territory, meanwhile, Blaydes said he’s been treated well by local fans. Then again, as he pointed out, there might be a reason for that.
“Fans — what fan, what normal 5’9, 5’10, 160 pound dude is gonna be like ‘hey, you f*cking suck.’ Even if they feel that way, they’re not going to say it. So I’ve never had any problems with anybody. They’ve all been really nice.”
Watch the full UFC London media day appearance from Curtis Blaydes above. The event takes place this Saturday, July 23, 2022 at the O2 Arena in London, England.