PREVIEW: Mark Hunt vs. Curtis Blaydes
Featured Image Credit: Mike Swick
It's PPV week! UFC 221 is coming in hot down under, and we begin our coverage with a preview of the Heavyweight co-main event between Australia's Mark Hunt and Curtis Blaydes.
Mark Hunt is a true pioneer in MMA. He's been fighting in the sport for over a decade, and he's seen the sport go from the WILDNESS that was PRIDE to joining the UFC 8 years ago, where he has seen the implementation of USADA. Also along the way, he has fought many of the best heavyweights of all time, such as Mirko Cro Cop, Fedor, Alistair, JDS, and others. Known for his ability to take a punch, as well as his ability to finish a fight with one, Hunt is an MMA legend. Anyone that knows the sport knows not much more needs to be said.
For Blaydes, Hunt needs to try to keep it standing. Blaydes is a great wrestler, so he will need his takedown defense to be on point on Saturday night. Along with that, he's gotta figure out ranges very quickly. He's gonna be the shorter fighter with a reach disadvantage, which he has dealt with before. Finally, he has to hope his chin is still there. He's been finished 3 times by KO or TKO in the last 4 years in a stretch that has seen him go 3-3 in his last 6, excluding the no contest for the Brock Lesnar fight. He's gonna have to either out-point or knockout Blaydes, a tough challenge for anyone, let alone a guy in Hunt who is probably past his prime.
Curtis Blaydes is legit. A former JuCo national champion in wrestling, he is one of the best young guys in a division full of dinosaurs. At only 26, he has shown that he has a relatively complete game. He only has one loss, that being against Francis NGannou. Let that sink in. Blaydes is 26, a national wrestling champion, and 3-1 in the UFC (He would be 4-1 but he got busted for the green stuff). This is no bum for Hunt to fight in his hometown, this is a legitimate challenger looking to make his name in Heavyweight's elite.
When it comes to his strategy for Mark Hunt, Curtis Blaydes has two options: ground game or standing. He has to think that he has the advantage on the ground being a national champion, but also on paper he should have an easier time standing, too, as he is a much bigger man than Hunt. He hits hard, maybe hard enough to crack the fading chin of the legend of the sport. Whatever happens here, Blaydes is a legit guy who will be a fixture in the Heavyweight division for a long time.
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