It’s not like he isn’t already somewhat there, though. Willis (8-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) just sent MMA legend Mark Hunt packing from the organization with a unanimous decision win at UFC Fight Night 142 in December, setting him up for the co-headlining matchup with Blaydes (10-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC). It’s a prime spot on the card, and one Willis believes will bring him much notoriety, especially given how he feels he matches up with his opponent.
Willis said he’s “built differently” than Blaydes, who he claims to have done some extensive research on from fighting style to personal life. His conclusion was that his own awareness of his skillset, as well as ability to overcome hardship, will tip the odds steeply in his favor.
“I’m a complete martial artist and I’m becoming more and more complete every single day,” Willis told MMA Junkie Radio. “When it comes to Mark Hunt, he was a striking and people thought that he’d be able to drown me in his striking. Even guys like Brock Lesnar didn’t want to strike with him and took him down. Curtis Blaydes took him down. To me that’s cowardice. We’re in game where this is a kill or be killed game. I want to go out there to kill everybody. I knew in my heart of hearts I was a better striker. Just like with Curtis Blaydes, I know I’m the better wrestler.
“That’s not a pride thing. That’s where I put in years and years of hard work being the nail. With Cain (Velasquez) and (Daniel Cormier) I was the sparring partner, literally the only one that stuck around for years until I learned how to become the hammer. My question is: I haven’t seen in any fights where (Blaydes) answers correctly the moment where he became the nail. He automatically went to what he was comfortable with, and that’s his wrestling. I am utterly comfortable there.”
UFC on ESPN+ 6 takes place March 23 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. The entire card streams on ESPN+.
Willis, an honorable mention in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie MMA heavyweight rankings, has been a dominant force inside the cage since losing his professional debut in June 2012. He took two years off after the defeat before returning to competition to put together eight consecutive wins, including four-straight under the UFC banner.
Although No. 7-ranked Blaydes has had the bigger fights and more successful octagon tenure so far, “Big Pretty” feels he’s seen everything his opponent is capable – both in and out of the cage. Meanwhile, Willis said he believes his upside is generating widespread intrigue.
“People are in it to watch me,” Willis said. “They’re not going to be there to watch this guy. This guy’s boring. Boring not just to fight; in the fights he’s boring. Personality-wise he’s boring. He’s just a boring guy. The people are obviously there to see me. That’s a fact.”
Willis believes that intrigue will grow even more once the world sees his performance on fight night.
“Once I take care of business you won’t have a choice but to look at me seriously,” Willis said. “People are already looking at me seriously, but upon that moment: Hello world. I’m excited for that moment.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: UFC Nashville's Justin Willis: 'Boring' Curtis Blaydes has never shown ability to be 'the nail'