Curtis Blaydes should probably be a bigger star than he is. First of all, the heavyweight contender is genuinely talented. Secondly, his name is ‘Blaydes.’ Surely that is cool enough to capture the imagination? If it wasn’t for Francis Ngannou, he’d probably have a title shot by now.
With a strong wrestling base, Blaydes is a big problem for most of the division. In fact, you could argue that he’s the best grappler at heavyweight right now. But even better for him was the fact that he didn’t have to use it against former champion Junior Dos Santos.
Dos Santos is a big fan-favorite but he’s definitely past his best. Coming off a knockout loss to Ngannou, he really needed a win over Blaydes to stay relevant. Sadly for the Brazilian, it didn’t happen and he ended up getting battered instead. Check out the savage finish below.
— UFC (@ufc) January 26, 2020
The pair were fighting in the main event of UFC Raleigh. Blaydes was the favorite coming into this one because of Dos Santos’s recent record. However, he was expected to have to take the fight to the ground. But that’s not what happened. Instead, we saw how Blaydes has developed his game and improved his striking. A lot.
It quickly became clear that Blaydes wasn’t going to take ‘Cigano’ down easily. He tried his best but Dos Santos was able to defend his attempts in the first round. But ‘Razorblaydes’ was able to compete on the feet and quickly got more confident. He took this into the second round.
— ShayMyName (@ImShannonTho) January 26, 2020
This was a brutal knockout. Dos Santos didn’t get knocked down but he was clearly out on his feet. Blaydes used his power to overwhelm the Brazilian before landing a heavy right hand to his chin. It was right on the button and more than enough for the referee to end the fight. In short, this was a statement win for Blaydes.
However, it does leave him in an awkward position. Until Stipe Miocic decides what he’s doing next, the heavyweight division is in stasis. A trilogy fight with Daniel Cormier appears likely but who knows what will happen? Francis Ngannou is the clear number-one contender unless he loses to Jairzinho Rosenstruick. Right now Blaydes will have to tread water.
Meanwhile, it’s a very tough loss for Dos Santos. He’ll always have a place in the UFC but he’s definitely relegated to gatekeeper status. Perhaps he’ll make the decision to retire in the near future.
— MMA Submission (@MMAsubPodcast) January 26, 2020
Elsewhere on the night, Michael Chiesa upset the odds to beat Rafael Dos Santos. RDA was a big favorite to win that one but instead dropped to his third loss in a row. He struggled to impose his gameplan against the longer, rangy Chiesa. Chiesa called out Colby Covington after his victory and that would be a very interesting match-up.
Angela Hill also won in brutal style. She put a vicious beating on hometown girl Hannah Cifers to turn the crowd against her. That’s her second TKO win on the trot for the Alliance MMA fighter. Is she set to surge in 2020?