Blaydes vs Ngannou 2 Preview
By Claudia Peterson
This Saturday night, UFC Beijing brings us a clash of two of the best Heavyweights around today. Curtis Blaydes will seek to avenge his only loss inside the Octagon against the knockout artist Francis Ngannou.
Blaydes lost to Ngannou via TKO due to doctor stoppage in his UFC debut back in April of 2016. In that first fight, Blaydes, the former college wrestler, was able to get a couple of good takedowns, but after being unable to control Ngannou on the ground, he later lost the stand-up battle that saw his right eye shut close by the end of the second round. Since then, Blaydes has gone on to record some impressive victories over Alexey Olynick, Mark Hunt, and most recently Alistair Overeem.
Francis Ngannou, on the other hand, climbed the contender ladder much faster, and earned a title shot against the then reigning champion Stipe Miocic back in January of 2018, after impressive victories against Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem. The fight with Stipe exposed a lot of holes in Ngannou’s fighting pedigree, particularly his cardio and inability to answer to Stipe’s wrestling. The loss became a huge disappointment to those who saw Nagnnou as one of the next big stars of the UFC . After his failed bid for the Heavyweight title, Ngannou gave a forgettable performance against Derrick Lewis, which saw him lose by split decision. The fight with Lewis further exposed Ngannou’s weakened mindset.
What then can we expect from their second meeting this Saturday in Beijing? This would be an important win for Curtis Blaydes, who would certainly enter the title conversation, although he may have to wait for Cormier vs Lesnar to sort itself out if that is in fact the next title fight happening at Heavyweight.
Blaydes would be smart to stay outside of range of Ngannou’s inevitable left uppercuts and utilize his takedowns. For Ngannou, this will be a very defining fight that will either put him back in title contention with a win, or send back him to the back of the line with a third straight loss.
This is not a good matchup for Ngannou, as Curtis’ wrestling is sure to give him trouble and Ngannou’s cardio does not seem to be at par with Blaydes. What will be most important will be Ngannou’s mindset. On paper, we know that Nagnnou can win this fight, especially because he already has a win over Blaydes, but does Ngannou believe that he has the ability to win this fight and put himself back on a path towards title contention?
Prediction: Blaydes by decision