Following another successful three-fight run on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi that spanned January, the UFC has returned to Las Vegas for what has been a great two nights of fights. Remaining there for this one seemingly indefinitely, two top-five heavyweights in Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis will step into the octagon on Saturday night.
With just one title fight between them (a Lewis loss to Daniel Cormier in 2018), both fighters are looking for a win here to set up a potential shot at the belt in late 2021 or early 2022.
Who has the best chance of making that a reality? Let’s take a closer look.
Betting Profile: Curtis Blaydes (14-2-0)
Last Five Fights
Curtis “Razor” Blaydes will step into the octagon this Saturday, seven years the junior of his opponent Derrick Lewis. Despite being in the UFC since 2016, Blaydes has just 17 professional fights, a relatively low number for a fighter of his stature in the sport.
Like most heavyweights, Blaydes has made a career with his knockout ability, and his 3.55 Strikes Landed per Min. (SLpM) has been a presence in this division since he made his debut. Despite his striking ability, Blaydes has publicly stated his feeling of his ground game being the vehicle to continued success.
As was evident in his five-round defeat of Volkov in June, Blaydes is one of the best grapplers and wrestlers in the division, coming into this one averaging 6.98 takedowns per 15 minutes of fighting.
Betting Profile: Derrick Lewis (24-7-0)
Last Five Fights
For Blayde’s opponent in this one Derrick Lewis, fast and furious has always been the name of the game. While turning in an SLpM of just 2.64. Lewis absorbs 2.09 clean strikes per minute.
Once the winner of four Fight Night bonuses over five fights in 2017-18, two of Lewis’ last three fights have gone to the final bell. A loss in this one would only enhance the narrative that his best days are behind him, and his current #4 ranking might be the highest remaining peak we see.
Having all but guaranteed he’ll be looking to take this fight to the ground early and often, Blaydes should put the same strategy he did on Volkov in this spot. In short, that is to take his opponent to the ground and lay on him.
Not a strategy that will be kind to Lewis should it be executed.
Top Prop Bet
Between the outright declaration by Blaydes and Lewis’s recent propensity for letting the judges decide the result, I love the value this fight going the distance currently provides. With Stipe Miocic’s future uncertain, both fighters have a realistic chance at fighting for the belt should they win, and I expect conservative game plans to follow suit.
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