The Awkward Position Of Curtis Blaydes
By Jack Rainbow
The upcoming main-event on the 20th of June pits off two exciting heavyweight contenders in Russian striker Alexander Volkov and former NCAA wrestler Curtis Blaydes.
Blaydes, however, finds himself in an unfortunate position. The American has beaten a lot of the current heavyweight hopefuls, such as Alister Overeem and Junior Dos Santos. His record of 13-2 further illustrates his talent and his striking is much improved recently also, making him a handful for anyone.
However, his two defeats to Francis Ngannou put him in an awkward position. With the majority of reporters, and fans speculating that both Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic are likely to retire after there trilogy bout in August, the title is likely to be vacant. One thing is for certain is that Ngannou will be fighting for the title next, making the third fight unlikely.
Blaydes since the second loss has been phenomenal, finishing former titleholders and legends, as well as prospects.
The 0-2 record against the number one contender means a third match lacks value with fans and the matchmakers.
The heavyweight picture is unique and frustrating. When Miocic and Cormier fight in August, it will have been a year since the last title fight. Ngannou’s frustration about this situation is well-publicized, but the position of Blaydes is arguably even more frustrating.
With the norm throughout the UFC being two title fights a year per division, the heavyweight scene is log-jammed, and this is made worse by the lack of real talent outside the top 10.
With Jon Jones having already flirted a potential future-fight with Ngannou, it is likely, that if Miocic and Cormier retire, Blaydes will be stuck on the sidelines.
Obviously just assuming he will beat talented Russian striker Volkov is premature, this is undeniably a huge challenge for Blaydes, but in the situation that he does emerge victorious, it is hard to see who is next for him.
The nature of his losses to Ngannou further makes the third fight unlikely. The power of the African striker meant both were knockouts and the UFC hate making third fights on 0-2 records irrespective as illustrated by Dana White’s lacking an appetite for Amanda Nunes vs Valentia Shevchenko 3, despite this being the biggest Women’s UFC fight possible
Therefore Blaydes has to make sure he continues winning. His road to the title is harder than the average fighter despite his charisma and undeniable talent.
One thing that is certain is that Ngannou will fight for the title next. If Blaydes wants to also cement his title credentials he needs to win – and not only that it has to be emphatic.