Curtis Blaydes has accepted that he won’t be the next UFC heavyweight title challenger. What’s left to be decided, though, is what that means when it comes to his more immediate future.
Meaning: Now that it’s all but official that dual champ Daniel Cormier will meet Brock Lesnar in his first UFC heavyweight title defense, does Blaydes just sit it out and wait? Or does he take another fight and risk his current contender spot?
At this point, the 27-year-old Blaydes (10-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) isn’t sure what he’ll do. But on the pros-and-cons list of taking a fight, octagon history is filed under con.
“I remember a situation a few years ago when ‘Jacare’ (Souza), at middleweight, was in the exact same position I was in, and he had an option to wait or take another fight,” Blaydes told MMAjunkie Radio on Wednesday. “He decided to do the latter. He took another fight, against Yoel Romero, and he lost a tight split decision (at UFC 194). And he hasn’t sniffed the title since that day. So it’s something that I’ve been thinking about, too.”
Currently No. 5 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, Blaydes scored his biggest win last month at UFC 225, when he sliced Alistair Overeem open en route to a third-round TKO. After the win that brought his streak to five, Blaydes was categorical in his callout: “There’s no doubt that I am the next one in line for the title.”
UFC 226 earlier this month first offered him some reassurance in that sense: After Derrick Lewis took a unanimous-decision win over former title challenger Francis Ngannou in a stinker of a co-headliner, it seemed clear that a title challenger didn’t emerge from there. Blaydes reacted accordingly.
But then came the twist: Cormier (21-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) had barely cooled down after a massive fist-round knockout of Stipe Miocic when Lesnar (5-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) made a surprise appearance. UFC President Dana White later confirmed that, yes, that was the fight to make – and Cormier understandably was on board with receiving what is bound to be a hefty payday from the matchup.
In the meantime, dethroned champ Miocic has come out with his own argument for an immediate rematch after the “(expletive) show” with Lesnar at UFC 226. On his end, Blaydes feels the same way he did when he was done with Overeem.
“I feel like I deserve a title shot, based off my last couple of fights,” Blaydes said.
But he also believes that, with all this money on the line, “that doesn’t really mean anything to the UFC.”
“It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion, the (Cormier-Lesnar) fight is going to happen,” Blaydes said. “And I’ve already accepted it.”
And that, it tuns out, also involves accepting that the UFC might simply not want Blaydes to be champion. Which brings everything back to why he’d be willing to wait.
Lesnar has just re-entered the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s testing pool and will have to serve out the rest of a suspension stemming from a UFC 200 meeting with Mark Hunt. Lesnar won’t be eligible to return until January. Even after that happens, considering Lesnar’s octagon inconsistency, there’s little telling whether he’d carry his reign through should he win.
And Cormier has retirement plans in place, which means the Lesnar bout could very well be his last. Even if things line up perfectly and no one else – like, say, Miocic – steps in for a title shot, that would mean a pretty long waiting period for Blaydes.
“I’m willing to wait, because I have this feeling that the UFC – they don’t really want me to have the belt,” Blaydes said. “Because I don’t have the most exciting – my style isn’t the most fan-friendly. So I feel they would take every opportunity to not give me a title shot because they know my wrestling is the x-factor. If I have to, I will just take a guy down and ground and pound him for three rounds. Which, they’re right, is not the most exciting version of fighting. But it is the most effective, especially going against the heavyweights I have to go against. …
“So me taking another opponent and me winning, I don’t think they would even care about that. I feel like even if I called out Stipe (Miocic) and I won, they would probably give it to Cain Velasquez or, who knows, maybe even Jon Jones or maybe Junior dos Santos. There’s so many other guys that I know the UFC would rather have as champion of the heavyweights.”
That being said, it’s not like Blaydes is adverse to finishing fights. Including Overeem, Blaydes has knockout wins over three of his UFC opponents. But even if that wasn’t the case, as far as his fighting style goes, Blaydes is categorical in that he’ll do what he needs to in order to not just win, but also preserve his own health.
And if people have a problem with that attitude? Well, he’s got another real-life example to illustrate his feelings on that matter.
“I’m always going to do what I do best,” Blaydes said. “If the UFC doesn’t like it, or if the fans don’t like it, I guess the only option is for them to release me. Because I’m going to keep doing what I have to do to win. I’m not going to risk brain injuries to put on a show for people I don’t know.
“I feel like what happened to (featherweight champion) Max Holloway is what happens when you like to stand and bang. He had to pull out of UFC 226 due to concussion-like symptoms. I just feel like people don’t want to address it, but I’ve had this discussion with my coaches, with my roommates, other fighters. I think that’s a direct result of all the wars he’s had, all the heavy hits he’s eaten.”
For more on the upcoming UFC schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Curtis Blaydes believes UFC doesn't want him as heavyweight champ, weighs in on Brock Lesnar situation