Curtis Blaydes soundly defeated Russian Heavyweight Alexander Volkov in the main event of Saturday night’s UFC on ESPN’s main event, at the APEX in Las Vegas.
Blaydes demonstrated his elite-level wrestling as he earned a unanimous decision win over the Russian. He broke the all-time record for takedowns in a UFC Heavyweight fight with 14, Surpassing Cain Velasquez’s previous record of 11.
Blaydes is now tied alongside Francis Ngannou and Augusto Sakai for the longest winning streak among active UFC Heavyweights with 4 straight wins. With that being said, it seems that Blaydes’s record-breaking performance against Volkov (31-8) wasn’t enough to please some people, including UFC President Dana White.
White believes that after Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier battle at UFC 252 on August 15, that Francis Ngannou (who already beat Blaydes twice) should be next in line for a title shot.
Dana slammed Blaydes’s performance, as well as questioning his cardio after the fight. “I like Curtis Blaydes but he has the wrong attitude as far as I’m concerned. I have nothing against the kid at all, but when you talk s*** like he talked this week, man you better come in and whoop somebody’s a**, when you perform like he performed tonight, you look stupid.”
White claimed that Blaydes “gassed out” and went on to question, “How do you give him the title fight over Francis?” Blaydes is in a strange position, in a strange Heavyweight division.
We know that he’s good enough to beat just about every other contender in the division, but seeing him get destroyed by Francis Ngannou on two separate occasions has taken some of the interest away from one of the division’s best. So what’s next for Curtis Blaydes?
I think sitting on the shelf and assessing the division after the UFC 252 main event would be a smart decision. With rumors of retirement surrounding both Cormier and Miocic, it’s tough to predict the Heavyweight picture at the moment.
For all we know, a surprise third fight between Blaydes and Ngannou could be made for a potentially vacant UFC Heavyweight Championship later this year. That’s how unpredictable the division is at the moment.
If I had to pick a name to keep Blaydes busy in the meantime, Jairzinho Rozenstruik would be a fun choice. However, it’s hard to see Blaydes, who labeled himself as a “heel” after Saturday night, risk his position in the rankings against a fighter coming off a loss in his previous bout.
The Heavyweight division should become clearer in the coming months, but for now, Curtis Blaydes’ future is anyone’s guess.