There is no question that UFC heavyweight, Curtis Blaydes (13-2, 1 NC), is one of the best heavyweights in the world. Blaydes is currently ranked as the third best heavyweight in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Since joining the UFC back in 2016, Blaydes has a very good record of 8-2 with one no contest. Blaydes is going up against the fifth ranked heavyweight this Saturday night in Alexander Volkov (31-7). Blaydes told MMA Junkie if he beats Volkov, he will likely try to sit out until he gets a title shot, but is that smart?
State of the UFC’s heavyweight division
The UFC‘s heavyweight division is in a very weird spot at the moment. Current champion, Stipe Miocic, is scheduled to conclude his trilogy with former champion, Daniel Cormier on August 15th. Cormier has publicly said that this would be his last fight win or lose. One has to wonder what the future would hold for Miocic if he was to win. The champion will turn 38-years-old four days after the title fight with Cormier. If he’s able to beat Cormier, what’s left for him at heavyweight? There is only one true number one contender right now, and Miocic has already defeated him. That number one contender is the frightening, Francis Ngannou. Is the risk of fighting Ngannou worth the reward for Miocic if he’s able to beat Cormier for a second time? The UFC could be looking at a situation where both Miocic and Cormier walk away from the sport after UFC 252. The only man that I could see either guy fighting after the August 15th title fight is Jon Jones.
The Ngannou Problem
If Ngannou is the number one contender and Blaydes is right behind him, Blaydes should just wait to see what happens after August 15th right? I mean if both men retire, Blaydes would have to get the title shot against Ngannou for the vacant heavyweight title, right? Here’s the issue with that. Blaydes has lost twice to Ngannou already, and neither fight was close. In-fact, Blaydes didn’t even last one minute the last time they fought. Even if Blaydes beats Volkov which would be his fourth win in a row, I’m not sure the UFC would be jumping at the chance to book him and Ngannou for the vacant heavyweight title if the 8/15 winner retires. The likely scenario would be that the UFC would throw a lot more money at Jon Jones to make the superfight with Ngannou happen for the heavyweight title, leaving Blaydes on the sidelines.
Another intriguing possibility to fight Ngannou if the title was to become vacant is Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. I wrote about that being a potential superfight that the UFC could put together this year. Of course, Johnson wouldn’t have the heavyweight resume that Blaydes has, but that fight would sell a lot more, and the UFC is a business at the end of the day. I get where Blaydes is coming from in saying that he wants to wait for a UFC title shot if he wins on Saturday. Unfortunately his two losses to the current number one contender really puts him behind the eight-ball in the title shot pecking order. I think it’s going to be a long time before Blaydes gets a UFC title shot with the way things currently stand.