UFC: Greg Hardy – Khalil Rountree targeted for UFC 252

UFC 252 is quickly becoming a card for the heavyweights. The main event features the conclusion to the trilogy between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic while the co-main event is scheduled to feature Junior Dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Combate is reporting that the UFC is planning on another heavyweight matchup for the August card.

According to Raphael Marinho of Combate, Greg Hardy (6-2, 1 NC) and Khalil Rountree (8-4) will be going head to head on August 15th. For Rountree, the Hardy fight will mark his first fight at heavyweight, and potentially the last fight of his career. Back in December, Rountree said his next fight would be his last.

From All-Pro to UFC contender

The former all-pro defensive lineman, Hardy, has had an interesting MMA career thusfar. He came storming out of the gate winning three straights by first round knockout, then he ran into issues against Allen Crowder. Hardy went on to lose that fight by DQ due to an illegal knee.

After that loss, Hardy would go on to win back to back fights. We last saw Hardy at UFC 249 where he was able to secure a unanimous decision victory over Yorgan De Castro. There are no questions that Hardy will look to make this a statement victory on his way to the top fifteen in the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

The UFC‘s heavyweight division will see a lot of action on August 15th. Three big fights currently scheduled on the main card. Top contenders Francis Ngannou and Curtis Blaydes just won a pair of fights which secure their spots at the top of the division. The heavyweight division is lacking right now so it makes sense that the UFC is trying to capitalize on the August card by stacking the deck with heavyweight fights.

UFC: Derrick Lewis-Alexey Oleinik to headline August 8th Fight Night

One of the more popular figures in the UFC will be making his return on August 8th. Per ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, the always-entertaining, Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis (23-7, 1 NC), will be making his return in a headlining fight against top-15 heavyweight, Alexey Oleinik.

The Black Beast is looking for another UFC title shot

Derrick Lewis became a sensation after his come from behind knockout of Alexander Volkov at UFC 229. The most watched UFC PPV in history featured Lewis knocking out Volkov with just seconds remaining in the fight, after he had been losing the entire time. Lewis’ post-fight interviewing skills are legendary, and a star was born that night. Lewis went from the Volkov fight to fighting for the title against Daniel Cormier. Lewis lost that fight then he lost again to former champion, Junior dos Santos. Since that loss, Lewis has bounced back with back-to-back victories over Blagoy Ivanov and Ilir Latifi. Lewis is currently ranked as the fourth best heavyweight in the UFC, and a victory on August 8th would put him in the title conversation once again.

Seasoned and Tested

Probably the most seasoned fighter in the UFC is heavyweight, Alexey Oleinik. At 42-years-old, Oleinik has fought 73 times professionally to a record of 59-13-1. Oleinik hit a bump in the road in 2019 after losing fights to Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris. Oleinik has bounced back strong in 2020. Oleinik has fought and won twice this year against Maurice Green and former heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum. A win over Lewis would be massive for Oleinik. Oleinik is currently ranked as the 11th best heavyweight in the UFC, but a win over Lewis would vault him closer to the top five.

UFC: Curtis Blaydes’ planning on waiting for a title shot if he wins Saturday, but he could be waiting a while

Curtis Blaydes, UFC

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.

Blaydes’ Dilemma

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.