UFC Vegas 15 Preview: Derrick Lewis – Curtis Blaydes

Tomorrow night in the headliner of UFC Vegas 15, we have a heavyweight showdown that the MMA world is talking about. Top four contenders Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis (24-7, 1 NC) and Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC) will be going to battle.

This fight is a pivotal matchup for the UFC‘s heavyweight division. The winner of this fight will be on the short list of contenders for an upcoming shot at the UFC‘s heavyweight title. Both men having winning streaks that they are looking to continue.

For the Black Beast, he’s looking to pickup his fourth consecutive win in the UFC. Coming into this matchup, Lewis is coming off of a second round knockout over Alexey Oleynik that took place back in August.

The win was the third straight for Lewis. The Black Beast became the UFC’s heavyweight knockout king that night. Since making his promotional debut back in 2014, he’s only won a decision four times while scoring eleven knockouts in that time.

Blaydes on the other hand will be going into tomorrow night on a four fight winning streak. The only man to have defeated Blaydes in his professional career is top UFC heavyweight, Francis Ngannou. Ngannou was able to stop Blaydes both times they fought.

Razor Blaydes is known for his dominant wrestling and his tremendous ground and pound. He’s also really showed improvements in his hands although he’s made it clear that he does not plan on standing with the knockout king at UFC Vegas 15.

UFC Vegas 15 Prediction

The headliner at UFC Vegas 15 is relatively easy to pick in my opinion. The fight is going to go one of two ways. Either Derrick Lewis is going to catch Blaydes and knock him out, or we are going to see a wrestling clinic with Blaydes getting his hand raised.

If Lewis wins tomorrow night, UFC fans will be talking about a knockout. If Blaydes wins, we will be discussing his efficiency and his dominant wrestling. There is a chance that Blaydes can get a TKO finish tomorrow night. However, only if Lewis completely gasses out.

If Derrick Lewis is going to win tomorrow night, he’s gonna have to catch Blaydes coming in. If he can’t catch him, I don’t see the fight going well. Lewis struggles with wrestlers and Blaydes is arguably the best in the division. I can definitely see Lewis catching him, but smart money is on Blaydes.

Prediction: Curtis Blaydes by Unanimous Decision

State of the heavyweight division ahead of UFC Vegas 15

MMA, Stipe Miocic

This weekend at UFC Vegas 15, Curtis Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC) and Derrick Lewis (24-7, 1 NC) will go head to head in a battle of top four contenders. The winner of this weekend’s fight will be squarely in the title picture.

However, the heavyweight division seems to be paused at the moment. Francis Ngannou (15-3) is the clear number one contender in the UFC‘s heavyweight division. Yet, his title fight has not been booked.

Ngannou has only fought once since the middle of 2019. He has been patiently waiting as the UFC‘s heavyweight title has been tied up for the last two years with the trilogy of Stipe Miocic (20-3) and Daniel Cormier.

Back at UFC 252, Miocic was able to finish off the trilogy with a unanimous decision win over Cormier. However, Miocic needed a little time off after the fight was over which has extended the layoff for Ngannou.

Ngannou has come out this week voicing his frustrations about his prime being wasted. The current plan is for the UFC to book the heavyweight title fight for sometime either in March or April. However, that is not confirmed.

UFC’s GOAT moving up

There’s another interesting wrinkle that’s been thrown into the UFC‘s heavyweight division and that’s Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC). Arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world recently vacated his light heavyweight title to move up to heavyweight. 

Jones has his eyes on the UFC heavyweight title, and it’s been said that he will get a title shot in his first shot at heavyweight. However, Jones will not jump Ngannou which means we likely won’t see Jones competing for the title until the summer.

That being said, what does this weekend’s fight really mean? Without Jones, the UFC Vegas 15 winner would likely get the next shot after Ngannou. However, since Jones is moving up, the winner this weekend will likely be third in line.

Assuming either guy wouldn’t want to wait nearly a year for their title shot, the winner will likely have to take another fight. So what are the options for the winner? Well, there are a couple of options.

One option would be for the winner to take on Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1). Rozenstruik doesn’t have a fight booked and he’s coming off of a knockout win over Junior Dos Santos. There’s not a clear next opponent for him and he hasn’t fought either man in this weekend’s main event.

Another option would be for the winner to take on the winner of the Alistair Overeem – Alexander Volkov fight in February. Some rematches can materialize with that possibility.

I think the UFC will likely book the winner this weekend against Rozenstruik. We know that the winner this weekend isn’t getting a title shot and they’re not fighting Jones. Keep the winner active, and let them fight Rozenstruik.

Derrick Lewis looks to extend heavyweight knockout record at UFC Vegas 15

Back in August at UFC Vegas 6, Derrick Lewis (24-7, 1NC) became the promotion’s heavyweight knockout king. He earned that honor when he knocked out Alexey Oleynik in the second round of their heavyweight main event.

The victory was Lewis’ 11th knockout victory inside the UFC which pushed him passed Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos for soul possession of first. Quite the impressive honor for the heavyweight from Houston.

Lewis has become a fan favorite in the UFC for a number of reasons. Whether it’s his post-fight interviews which featured him taking his fight shorts off or his fighting style, The Black Beast has become must see TV.

Lewis will enter the octagon on Saturday night as the fourth ranked heavyweight in the UFC. He’s also on a three fight win streak and a victory on Saturday night could put him next in line after top contender Francis Ngannou. However, that task will not be easy.

UFC Vegas 15’s Tough Matchup

In order to secure his fourth straight win in the UFC, Lewis will have to take out the promotions second ranked heavyweight, Curtis Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC). There has only been one man to have derailed Blaydes in the UFC and that was Francis Ngannou.

Ngannou was able to finish Blaydes both times they’ve fought. However, outside of Ngannou, Blaydes has been a nightmare for the guys he’s fought. He’s used his wrestling and grappling skills to maul his opponents.

However, he’s also shown that his hands have gotten better. The Dos Santos knockout is proof of that. Still, Blaydes leans heavily on his wrestling attack and his vicious top game to neutralize and defeat his opponents.

Lewis is going to have to really show on Saturday that his takedown defense has gotten better. We’ve seen Lewis struggle inside the UFC against guys who want to take the fight to the ground.

The Black Beast struggled in his lone title shot against Daniel Cormier. He also struggled in the first round against Alexey Oleynik. However, with Lewis, he only needs one shot with the fight on the feet.

That’s what makes Saturday night so intriguing. On paper, you’d have to favor Blaydes because of the styles. However, it doesn’t matter how late we get into the fight, the heavyweight knockout king is always just one shot away from turning out the lights.

UFC books headliner featuring Alistair Overeem – Alexander Volkov

The UFC is on fire with fight announcements today. Dana White told ESPN this afternoon that the promotion is finalizing the headliner for their card on February 6th. It’s a good one in the heavyweight division.

Per White, the UFC is booking Alistair Overeem (47-18, 1 NC) against Alexander Volkov (32-8) in a five round main event. Both of these contenders currently rank in the top six of the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

Alistair Overeem is in the final chapters of his incredible career. He’s held titles in just about every promotion he’s competed in outside of the UFC. That is the one title that has seemed to allude him throughout his career.

The 40 year old knows this run will be his final run. In 2020, Overeem has stopped Walt Harris and Augusto Sakai in two great performances. To end 2019, he was stopped by Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the final seconds of a fight he controlled.

Prior to that loss, Overeem had won two straight. At 4-1 in his last five fights, it appears that Overeem is only a win or two away from a UFC title shot. However, there will be a tough Russian standing in his way on February 6th.

UFC Heavyweight Clash

We just saw Alexander Volkov compete back at UFC 254. It was honestly one of the more impressive performances I’ve seen from Volkov. He took out Walt Harris in the second round of their heavyweight battle.

In that fight, Volkov did such a great job of sniping Harris from range. That was the version of Alexander Volkov that many believe could be a UFC title challenger one day. He’s getting a big chance with a headliner against Alistair Overeem.

This should be a fantastic matchup and I’m very curious to watch it play out. Both of these men are very decorated strikers so you’d think it would take place on the feet. However, we’ve seen Overeem go to his wrestling lately.

Perhaps Overeem leans on the grappling in a fight against another top level striker. Time will tell, but it should be a fantastic matchup in the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

What’s next for Greg Hardy after UFC Vegas 12?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 12, Greg Hardy (7-2, 1 NC) took on “The Crochet Boss” Maurice Greene (9-5). The fight was all Hardy from the very beginning. After dropping Greene a couple of times, Hardy closed the show in the second round.

It was the second UFC victory of 2020 for the former NFL All-Pro defensive lineman. Back in May, Hardy defeated Yorgan De Castro by Unanimous Decision at UFC 249. Hardy continued to show improvement this past Saturday evening.

Former UFC light heavyweight champion, Rashad Evans, has taken Hardy under his wing. You can tell that Hardy has really put all of his time and effort into becoming a better mixed martial artist. In the past, Hardy always seemed to leave the door open for an NFL return.

However, this past week, Hardy said that MMA has completely taken over his life. Hardy could be a very dangerous contender if he continues to tighten things up and progressing down the path that he’s currently on.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 12?

I personally think it’s time that the UFC steps up the competition for Greg Hardy. Outside of the Ben Sosoli No Contest, the only fight that Greg Hardy hasn’t won in the last year and a half was the last minute fight against Alexander Volkov.

If I was playing matchmaker after this last performance, I would give Hardy someone who’s either on the fringe of the top 15 or someone who’s on the backend. If you want to give him someone with a ranking, I would look at Marcin Tybura.

However, I think there’s a better option that will come out of this upcoming weekend. At UFC Vegas 13, Tanner Boser is scheduled to take on Andrei Arlovski. I think the winner of that fight would be a good next step for Hardy in the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

Greg Hardy looking to show improvement at UFC Vegas 12

Tomorrow night at UFC Vegas 12, Greg Hardy (6-2, 1 NC) will be making the walk to the octagon for the sixth time. The former all-pro defensive lineman in the NFL has had an up and down career so far in the UFC.

Hardy will be taking on “The Crochet Boss” Maurice Green (9-4) on tomorrow’s main card. This will be the second fight of the year for Hardy. He fought back at UFC 249 and defeated Yorgan De Castro by decision.

Hardy came into the sport of MMA with a ton of hype. After some issues in his personal life essentially ended his NFL career, Hardy decided to change his focus to MMA. Since making that transition, Hardy seems to be a completely different person and he’s dedicated himself to the sport.

He was knocking everyone out left and right when he started. Then he ran into his first hurdle against Allen Crowder. Crowder was the first person that Hardy couldn’t just knockout and he gassed in that fight. He ended up losing by DQ due to an illegal knee.

Following that fight, Hardy won two straight fights by first round knockout. He then won another fight by decision, but it was overturned due to his use of an inhaler. He lost to Alexander Volkov in a short notice main event for the UFC back in November.

UFC Vegas 12 is a big night for Hardy

Hardy is a top level athlete, and he has all the tools to become a great fighter in the UFC. However, it’s never easy for someone to transition to the sport after only competing and training for a few years. Yet, here we are with Hardy.

This week at the UFC Vegas 12 media day, Hardy acknowledged that he still has a ways to go. He said that he believes he’s only on the B-level as of now. I think he’s fringe b/c, but if he can come out and defeat Maurice Greene, he will be at the b-level.

Greene is not going to be an easy fight for Hardy. Maurice Greene comes out of a great camp and he’s extremely fluid on his feet. Not too mention he’s got very good submissions and should have the advantage on the ground should the fight go there.

Whoever comes out victorious tomorrow night could be looking at a ranking in their near future. If not a ranking, for sure a ranked opponent will be in their future. It should be a fantastic fight in the heavyweight division.

UFC has a target date for Miocic – Ngannou 2 per Dana White

MMA, Stipe Miocic

One of the more anticipated UFC title fights that has yet to be booked is the rematch between Stipe Miocic (20-3) and Francis Ngannou (15-3). The two men last fought back in January of 2018 at UFC 220 where Miocic dominated the top contender.

However, since that fight, Ngannou has turned into an even more terrifying monster. He had a bump in the road against Derrick Lewis where he couldn’t pull the trigger, but outside of that, he’s been a destroyer in the heavyweight division.

In Ngannou’s last four UFC contests, none of seen more than one minute and eleven seconds of action. Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik have all been knocked out by Ngannou in a combined 2:42.

Miocic on the other hand has spent the last two years in a trilogy with Daniel Cormier. Back at UFC 252, Miocic put the finishing touches on the trilogy with a unanimous decision victory over Cormier. However, he didn’t come through the fight without injury.

According to Dana White in an interview with TMZ, the UFC‘s heavyweight champion needed time to recover. However, the UFC does have a date planned for the rematch. According to White the rematch between the two will take place in March.

UFC’s March Heavyweight Title Fight

This seems to go right along with the timeframe that Ngannou referenced last week when he discussed his frustrations. The trilogy between Miocic and Cormier tied up the heavyweight title for the last couple of years which has been frustrating for Ngannou.

When these two men fight again, I think we are going to see a much different fight than we saw at UFC 220. Miocic really humbled Ngannou that night. Francis made that walk thinking he was indestructible, and Miocic made him feel very human.

However, Ngannou is a completely different fighter than he was then. I think he’s at his absolute best now, and I don’t know if Miocic is. I think the challenger will likely be the favorite when these two stand across from each other next March.

UFC: Francis Ngannou growing frustrated with another lengthy layoff

Francis Ngannou

Back in May, Francis Ngannou (15-3) made a massive statement at UFC 249. Taking on the undefeated Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Ngannou won by knockout in a mere 20 seconds to solidify is top contender status in the heavyweight division.

For Ngannou, it was his fourth straight victory. Not just that, it was his forth straight first round knockout none of which have gone more than 71 seconds. Simply put, Ngannou is the most terrifying force in the UFC right now.

However, he hasn’t been able to get back in the cage since then. Ngannou tried to lobby for a fight with the UFC‘s pound for pound best, Jon Jones, however, that fight fell apart due to financial negotiations between Jones and the UFC. 

UFC 252 rolled around in August and Stipe Miocic defeated Daniel Cormier to retain his heavyweight title. However, Miocic is said to be out until March of next year with some injuries that he sustained the matchup against Cormier. This isn’t sitting well with the top contender.

The UFC’s heavyweight issue

The UFC has a problem on their hands in the heavyweight division. It all stems back to when Daniel Cormier won the heavyweight title. After Cormier won, it appeared that the UFC would make Cormier fight Brock Lesnar in a super fight for the heavyweight title.

However, that fight never materialized. Then a year after Cormier fought Miocic the first time, the two rematched where Miocic retained the title. Due to injuries in the rematch, it took another year for the trilogy fight to happen at UFC 252.

While all of this was going on, Ngannou was running through contenders like Cain Velasquez, Curtis Blaydes, Junior Dos Santos, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Ngannou pointed out that he’s only fought for 20 seconds in the last 16 months.

The UFC needs to get the heavyweight division moving again. If Miocic can’t go in March, I think the UFC needs to create an interim title and let Ngannou face either the winner of the Lewis – Blaydes fight or perhaps they can make the Jon Jones fight happen.

 

UFC currently working on Junior Dos Santos – Ciryl Gane

It has been a tough 2020 for UFC prospect Ciryl Gane (6-0). Gane came into 2020 as one of the brightest prospects in the division. A massive heavyweight with incredible striking and power to go along with it. The UFC had high hopes for Gane this year.

However, the promotion has attempted to book Gane in four fights through the year. None of which have come to fruition. He was supposed to fight today at UFC Fight Island 6, however, that fight was called off earlier this week. 

Gane needs an opponent with name recognition and a ranking for the UFC to build him. Well, Dana White said yesterday that the promotion is working on an opponent that checks both of those boxes. That opponent would be former champion, Junior Dos Santos (21-8).

We last saw JDS back at UFC 252 when he took on Jairzinho Rozenstruik. That night, Dos Santos looked very good early on in the fight. Definitely won the first round in my opinion. However, JDS was caught with a flurry in round two that put him down for the count. His third straight TKO loss.

Thoughts on the UFC matchup?

This is a very good matchup for the UFC to make in my opinion. The former UFC champion has been struggling over the last year having suffered three straight knockout losses. JDS won three fights in a row prior to those losses.

Gane is being built up as a big time prospect for the heavyweight division. The division needs fresh faces to make things exciting, and the UFC couldn’t ask for a more exciting prospect than Ciryl Gane who currently trains with Francis Ngannou.

There will be a number of storylines that will surround this potential matchup. For Dos Santos, if he gets knocked out again, he might need to look at retirement, however, if he wins, he could look at one final run in the UFC before hanging it up.

For Gane, this is his chance to really introduce himself to the general MMA fans. Most know who Ciryl Gane is, but for the casuals, a big win over JDS would announce his arrival. It’s a fascinating matchup that I’m looking forward to.

UFC Fight Island 6 loses it’s co-main event

Ciryl Gane UFC

UFC Fight Island 6 has taken a big hit. The card that will take place this Saturday night from Fight Island has lost it’s heavyweight co-main event of the evening. While the reasons are still unknown, the fight is off after first being reported by LaSueur.com.

Ciryl Gane (6-0) was expected to take on Ante Delija (17-3) in a highly anticipated heavyweight fight this Saturday night. Due to some issue with Delija, the fight has now been cancelled. Jessica Andrade and Katlyn Chookagian is expected to be the new co-headliner.

For Gane, UFC fans have to feel his frustrations. One of the top prospects in the UFC’s heavyweight division has not been able to get a fight since last December when he defeated Tanner Boser. Gane is currently ranked 13th in the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

One of the main training partners of top contender, Francis Ngannou, Gane is known for his world class striking. He’s a guy that many people have pegged to be a title challenger, however, he hasn’t been able to fight once this year. It’s not due to the lack of effort.

Four UFC cancellations for Gane

The UFC has tried to book their top heavyweight prospect from France four separate times this year. The UFC has tried pairing him with Shamil Abdurakhimov, Sergey Pavlovich, back to Abdurakhimov, and now Delija.

All four fights have fallen apart one way or another. This one is particularly cruel for the UFC heavyweight considering the fight was just a couple of days away. Have to think the UFC will throw him a little show money for all of this.

For now, it will be back to the match making drawing board for Gane and the UFC. The promotion has worked hard to get him a fight, everything has just fallen apart. Perhaps a fight with the tough Blagoy Ivanov (18-4. 1 NC) could be an option for Gane’s next attempt to get back in the cage.