UFC heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes believes that, despite his knockout loss last year, he’s still better than Derrick Lewis.
Blaydes, a perennial name in the group of elites at heavyweight, had his title charge stalled in 2021 at the hands (or sole right bomb…) of Lewis. In the main event of UFC Vegas 19, the pair collided with a likely championship opportunity on the line.
Heading into the contest, Blaydes carried the momentum of a four-fight win streak that included triumphs over former UFC champion Junior dos Santos and former Bellator titleholder Alexander Volkov. “The Black Beast,” meanwhile, had knocked out Alexei Oleinik in his prior outing.
Despite starting well, Blaydes was rendered unconscious in the second frame after changing levels straight into a brutal uppercut. With the victory, Lewis joined Francis Ngannou as only the second man to beat Blaydes and went on to challenge for interim gold against Ciryl Gane.
Now, in an exclusive interview with MMA News, Blaydes has looked back on his 2021 setback, his hopes for 2022, the heavyweight debut of Jon Jones, and revealed who hits harder out of Lewis and Ngannou.
Blaydes Believes He Has “More Skills” Than Lewis
While Lewis was dominated by Gane at UFC 265 last August, Blaydes got back on track a month later at UFC 266. Against another KO artist in Jairzinho Rozenstruik, “Razor” shut down the power opposite him, as he’d intended to do seven months earlier against Lewis, and secured a comfortable unanimous decision victory.
With his position in the top five cemented and his name back in the title conversation, Blaydes is ready to make another surge to the top, one he believes shouldn’t have been stalled by “The Black Beast.”
Speaking to MMA News’ James Lynch, Blaydes claimed he is “still better” than Lewis despite the result in February 2021. Ultimately, the 30-year-old believes he boasts more skill than the powerhouse, who Blaydes says defeated him the only way he could, a one-and-done KO blow.
“I don’t lose to bums, and he ain’t a bum. I know that. I think, stylistically, I should have won that fight,” said Curtis Blaydes. “He won the one way he could win. I took a bad shot, he caught me, but otherwise, apart from that, because I’ve re-watched the fight, he lost that first round, he was on his way to losing that round, and I rushed it and paid the price. That’s always gonna annoy me because I do believe, I know I lost, but I do believe I’m still better than Derrick Lewis. I think I have more skills than him, more ways to win. I’m better athletically. He’s just really good at what he does, which is getting the knockout.”
Having knocked out Chris Daukaus in December, Lewis will once again fight down the rankings in his next bout as his search for “fun” and pressure-free matchups continues. At UFC 271 next month, he’ll face fellow entertaining hard-hitter Tai Tuivasa.
Meanwhile, Blaydes will seemingly need to wait for some other fights to play out before his next opponent is set. Targeting an April return, “Razor” believes he could face the loser of this weekend’s unification showdown between Ngannou and Gane.
Who would you like to see Curtis Blaydes enter the Octagon with next?