Curtis Blaydes says a win against Sergei Pavlovich at UFC Vegas 71 on Saturday should get him his first UFC championship opportunity — and this time, he is going to wait for it. Blaydes has found himself in prime position to potentially challenge for the UFC heavyweight championship twice throughout his time with the promotion. However, he fell short after losing the pivotal fights that could have secured him the opportunity.
A four-fight win streak highlighted by a ‘Performance of the Night’ awarded third-round TKO of Alistair Overeem in 2018 saw Blaydes request either a title shot or Francis Ngannou, the first fighter he lost to in the UFC. The promotion went with the latter, and the rematch was scheduled for UFC Beijing, where Blaydes suffered a (T)KO loss to Ngannou.
The UFC heavyweight contender responded with four consecutive wins and, once again, found himself one fight away from a title shot. A win against Derrick Lewis in 2021 would have helped his case, but ‘Razor’ suffered yet another KO loss.
Curtis Blaydes willing to wait for title shot
Blaydes has since won his past three appearances, with a pair of (T)KOs against Chris Daukaus and Tom Aspinall among his highlights. And should he get through Pavlovich, the 32-year-old says the only fight he is interested in next is against the UFC heavyweight champion.
“I know what I’m working toward,” said Blaydes at his media day on Wednesday. “[If] I win, I’ll wait. I’ll wait for a title shot. I don’t care who it is. If it’s Jon [Jones], if it’s Stipe [Miocic], if they bring in Brock Lesnar, I’ll wait.”
In his return after a three-year hiatus, Jon Jones submitted Ciryl Gane via first-round guillotine choke at UFC 285 this past March. For ‘Bones,’ his first defense should come against Stipe Miocic, and it appears as though the UFC is trying to get that scheduled near the end of the year.
Though waiting for Jones vs. Miocic to happen would leave him sidelined for a few months, Blaydes says it is worth it, especially if it leads to a fight against Jones.
“The wrestling I present, it’s a problem,” said Blaydes. “And if you don’t think so, then you don’t really understand MMA. The ability for me to take the fight from on the feet to the ground when I want to puts more mental pressure on my opponents that have to think about it. Even if I don’t actually shoot, you know it’s an option and it’s something for you to think about. I use that and I think I can use that against Jon.”
When is UFC Vegas 71?
UFC Vegas 71 goes down on Sat., April 22, at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pavlovich vs. Blaydes serves as the headliner.
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