Blaydes Talks Ngannou’s Slide Before UFC Beijing
With five straight victories, Curtis Blaydes is making strides towards the top of the UFC heavyweight division, on the opposite side, the only man who ever beat Blaydes is rapidly declining.
Francis Ngannou was nearly the next big thing in the UFC, but following two back-to-back losses, Blaydes told The MMA Hour that his UFC Beijing opponent’s mind may not be in the right place.
“I don’t know. I’ve never had a two-fight losing streak, but if I project, I’m thinking he’s probably feeling a bit of pressure right now,” Blaydes said.
“He knows if he loses another one it doesn’t look good. That would be three back-to-back-to-back losses in one year. He’s a fan favorite, but you can still get released after that, so I know he’s got a little bit of pressure on him and that might make him press. When guys start pressing, they make mistakes and it usually gets worse.”
A Division-I wrestler, Blaydes feels that in the two years since his loss to Ngannou, he’s become a more complete fighter and has the tools to hand Ngannou his third-straight loss.
“I haven’t watched it in a few months now, but I’ve watched it at least a dozen times,” Blaydes said of their April 2016 fight. “I’ve picked it apart, all the things I did wrong, all the mistakes I made, all the ways I could have won. I had plenty of opportunities to win that fight. When I took him down the first time, I allowed him to get an underhook and just get back up. Had I had the knowledge I have today, I would have easily been able to counter that underhook and hold him down and ground and pound him. He didn’t have great conditioning then, he doesn’t have great conditioning now. I know if I hold him down for two to three minutes, he’ll be gassed, he’ll be done for.
“That right there just lets me know I could have beat him back then with all the holes I have in my game and today I’m ten times better than the version of myself that debuted that day. So, I know I can win. I have so many different ways to win now. I don’t have to wrestle, but most likely I will wrestle because I know that’s his weakest area of MMA.”
“If he goes in there and he fights me the way he fought Derrick Lewis, it’ll be really bad for him,” Blaydes said of Ngannou’s historically poor UFC 226 co-main event display. ” I’m hoping he’s in a better place in his head right now, that he believes in his skill set, because I want him to be at his best. I don’t want any excuses from the fans or pundits or anyone. I want him to come out guns blazing.”
Initial Report: MMA Fighting