PREVIEW: Curtis Blaydes vs Justin Willis
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The fights are almost here! Untitled MMA is going to be TRAVELLING to UFC Nashville this weekend, where the Music City is playing host to the world’s best MMA promotion. In the co-main event, there is a clash of top-10 heavyweights with Curtis Blaydes squaring off against Justin Willis.
Curtis Blaydes is in an awkward position in the division. He’s ranked fourth, which would normally mean he is one, MAYBE two wins away from a title shot. But, there’s a problem: Francis Ngannou. He’s lost to him twice, most recently in his last bout. He has shown that he is an elite Heavyweight, but there is a monster ahead of him in the rankings that has his number. I don’t see a world where he leapfrogs Francis, due to the UFC hype machine being fully behind the Cameroonian KO-artist. It has to be hard to keep the motivation, especially in a mess of a Heavyweight division when two guys, JDS and Ngannou, have a legitimate claim to the next shot, a former champion, Stipe Miocic, who is waiting on a title shot that he does not deserve but still might get, and then there’s Brock Lesnar lurking in the background, waiting to snatch up a title fight and put ALL of these guys on hold. What. A. Mess.
To keep himself relevant in the division, however, Blaydes needs to keep winning, preferably with finishes. He is not the most powerful striker, so I see him staying patient on the feet and looking for the right time to impose his will, pushing Willis to the fence and trying to secure that takedown. Blaydes is not the prettiest fighter to watch, but he is extremely effective. It should be noted that he is only 13 fights into his MMA career, this Saturday being his 14th, and has only lost to Francis Ngannou. Also, at 28 years old, he is still learning how to fight. If he continues to add weapons to his arsenal, look out.
“Big Pretty” Justin Willis, on the other hand, is still climbing up the ranks and is multiple wins away from concerning himself with the drama at the top of the division. He, too, is not very experienced, with only nine pro fights, but four of those are in the UFC, and he is undefeated in the promotion. He has shown he can go the distance, doing so in 3 of his UFC bouts, as well as the potential to finish opponents, as seen in his fight against Allen Crowder. He is rising up very quickly in this Heavyweight division, but training at AKA with the likes of Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier, I am sure he’s ready for the challenge.
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