UFC heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes says that out of his former opponents Derrick Lewis and Francis Ngannou, it’s “The Black Beast” who packs the hardest punch.
Across his 19-fight professional MMA career, Blaydes has only tasted defeat against Ngannou and Lewis. In his UFC debut back in 2016, “Razor” had the first blemish added to his record by “The Predator” in the form of a doctor stoppage.
After going 6-0-1 in his next seven outings, a period that included wins against Aleksei Oleinik, Mark Hunt, and Alistair Overeem, Blaydes had his chance at redemption.
In the main event of a Beijing, China-held UFC Fight Night in 2018, the Illinois native shared the Octagon with Ngannou for the second time. On that occasion, the current UFC Heavyweight Champion got the job done without a doctor, securing a first-round TKO less than a minute into the contest.
Like with his first defeat, Blaydes had no issue rebounding after his second setback. Mounting a four-fight win streak, he defeated former titleholder Junior dos Santos and veteran striker Alexander Volkov. That form granted him a title eliminator against Lewis. But in the UFC Vegas 19 main event, Blaydes was knocked out cold for the first time in his career.
In an exclusive interview with MMA News, Blaydes discussed the immense power of both Ngannou and Lewis, the upcoming UFC 270 main event, his heavyweight GOAT, Jon Jones‘ expected heavyweight debut, and his own return to action in 2022.
Blaydes: Lewis Slept Me, Ngannou Didn’t
Ngannou is widely regarded as not only the biggest power puncher in MMA but the hardest hitter on the globe. That claim is even backed up by some numbers. In 2017, the Cameroonian powerhouse set the record for the most powerful recorded punch in history.
That vicious ability to knock everyone and anyone out has been on full display in the UFC. In his five fights since consecutive defeats to Lewis and Stipe Miocic on the scorecards in 2018, Ngannou has knocked out Blaydes, Miocic, dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik, four of whom didn’t even escape the opening round.
But despite that, Blaydes believes the UFC’s power throne is occupied by Lewis, who boasts the most KOs in UFC history. Having felt the power of both top-five heavyweights, “Razor” believes it’s “The Black Beast” who boasts the power edge, citing the fact Lewis was able to sleep him and Ngannou wasn’t as his reasons.
“Well, Derrick. Obviously, I’d never been put to sleep, he put me to sleep. Gonna have to give it to him,” Blaydes told MMA News’ James Lynch. “When we (Blaydes and Ngannou) fought the first time, that was a doctor stoppage, I was not out, but I guess it goes down as a TKO. And then in Beijing, again, he dropped me twice in rapid succession, and then the referee jumped in, but I was aware, I remember everything. When Derrick Lewis knocked me out, I woke up in the ambulance, so there you go. That’s a big difference.”
Both Ngannou and Lewis are preparing for fights in the coming weeks. While “The Predator” is set for a title unification bout against former teammate Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 next weekend, “The Black Beast” will ride his main event KO against Chris Daukaus into a clash against fellow hard-swinger Tai Tuivasa at UFC 271 next month.
Blaydes, on the other hand, finds himself in an awkward position. After comfortably defeating Rozenstruik at UFC 266 last September, he cemented his status as a top-five heavyweight.
However, with three of the four names above him booked, the other being Miocic, who will likely either fight for the title or challenge Jones next and having already defeated the two contenders below him, options are limited for the time being.
Targeting an April return to the Octagon, Blaydes will seemingly wait for other fights to play out, and will perhaps challenge the loser of next weekend’s pay-per-view main event.
Who would you like to see Curtis Blaydes enter the cage with next?
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