Prior to each UFC card, Jay Primetown takes a close look at debuting fighters. In the latest installment, we look at heavyweight Curtis Blaydes as he takes on Frenchman Francis Ngannou at Fight Night 86 in Zagreb, Croatia. Curtis Blaydes Hometown: Nowhere, Oklahoma Age: 30 Height: 6’4” Reach: 82.5” Weight Class: Heavyweight Camp: Dutch Style MMA Career Record: 5-0 Key Wins: None Key Losses: None Background A junior college national champion in wrestling, Blaydes appears to be a top level that is transitioning to MMA. The Harper College wrestling product enters the UFC undefeated with all five of his victories by stoppage. Strengths
- Excellent wrestler
- Accelerates into power double takedowns
- Very good athlete Good size for the weight class
- Improving striker
- Only been fighting professionally for two years
- Still very green
- Competition level poor
- What happens if he can’t score takedowns?
Match-up against Francis Ngannou This is an exciting match-up between two athletic prospects in the heavyweight. The fighters have a combined one loss on their records and I think when we look back on this in a few years, we’ll look at this fight as one that should not have happened this early in their careers and save it for later on. Both fighter are big, athletic heavyweights that have the ability to dominate their opponents. Blaydes has an excellent wrestling base while Ngannou explosive hands. Both fighters are raw talents with holes in their game that can be exploited. With that said, Blaydes has the ability to control where this fight takes place. Ngannou’s biggest weakness is his takedown defense and I don’t see him being able to stuff the takedowns of Blaydes. Assuming Blaydes focuses on his wrestling, he should dominate this matchup. With that said, he’s made marked improvements in the striking department and has looked for some prolonged standups to further develop in that regard. If Blaydes does that, he opens opportunities for Ngannou to catch him on the feet. This fight ultimately depends on Blaydes and how he decides to fight. We’ll learn quickly if Blaydes sticks to a smart game plan sticking to his bread and butter. Any sort of deviation, makes this a very competitive fight. UFC Ceiling Curtis Blaydes is one of the better heavyweight prospects to enter the UFC in the past few years. He’s got excellent size and strength for the weight class. Blaydes combines that with one of the best MMA wrestling bases in the weight class. He drives very well to secure double leg takedowns and has also shown capable of working single range shots at close range. He has the capability of dominating opponents from start to finish. His striking is very much a work in progress. If he continues to make strides there, he could very well become a title contender in the not too distant future. What I need to see out of him is how he responds when he’s not able to secure takedowns. Furthermore what kind of fighter is he when his opponent pushes the pace. There’s a lot of positive when it comes to Blaydes, but also several questions he needs to be able to answer to make the leap from prospect to contender. Fight Film Check out Curtis Blaydes in some of his most recent fights: Curtis Blaydes vs. Luis Cortez Curtis Blaydes vs. Daniel James
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