After last weekend’s big UFC 258 event, the UFC returns to its APEX facility this weekend for UFC Vegas 19.
The main event sees a clash of UFC Heavyweight contenders, as Curtis Blaydes faces off against Derrick Lewis, while Bantamweights Ketlen Vieira and Yana Kunitskaya face off in the co-main.
The rest of the card is far weaker, with only a handful of recognizable names. But as always with the UFC, it’s worth watching the show as you never know when a classic fight is coming.
Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Vegas 19: Blaydes vs. Lewis.
#1 UFC Heavyweight division: Curtis Blaydes vs. Derrick Lewis
With a UFC Heavyweight title fight between champion Stipe Miocic and top contender Francis Ngannou finally signed for next month’s UFC 260, the stakes are high in this fight.
A win for either man – particularly a big finish that goes viral – could propel them into the next title shot. However, the presence of Jon Jones in the Heavyweight division might change that.
UFC President Dana White has claimed Jones will be next in line for a shot at Miocic or Ngannou, but Blaydes, in particular, could change that here.
Razor is on a four-fight win streak coming into this weekend, and stylistically, he seems like a tricky test for Miocic in particular.
If Ngannou – who has beaten Blaydes twice – were to win the title, things would obviously be different. But if Miocic retains the belt, then there’d definitely be an argument for Blaydes, and not Jones, taking the next shot – particularly if he wins big against Lewis.
What’s on the line for Lewis? In all honesty, probably nothing. The Black Beast already had his UFC Heavyweight title shot, coming up short in 2018 against then-champ Daniel Cormier. Since then, he’s gone 3-1 but is largely seen as a popular gatekeeper these days.
So who is likely to take this one? To be honest, it’s hard not to favor Blaydes.
Razor is probably the best wrestler in the UFC Heavyweight division right now. Indeed, he holds the record for the most takedowns landed in a UFC Heavyweight fight after dumping Alexander Volkov 14 times in their fight last summer.
Blaydes has been criticized – even by White – for a somewhat dull fighting style, but that usually isn’t the case. Prior to his admittedly slower win over Volkov, he’d finished Junior Dos Santos and Shamil Abdurakhimov in violent fashion.
And this fight sounds stylistically perfect for him. Lewis is a concussive puncher – arguably only Ngannou hits harder in the entire UFC – but his ground game has always been a major weakness.
Lewis’ straight-ahead style makes him relatively easy to take down, particularly for skilled wrestlers. And while he’s capable of escaping from the bottom, usually via brute force, UFC stars such as Cormier, Abdurakhimov, and Blagoy Ivanov found it relatively easy to keep him pinned.
Add in the fact that The Black Beast also lacks in the cardio department, and you’d be forgiven for questioning how he’s made it this far.
But when you possess the kind of face-melting power that Lewis does, you’ve always got a shot at winning. And so fights that The Black Beast was losing have quickly been turned around with one clubbing blow – giving him an impressive UFC record of 15-5.
Therefore, Lewis can win this fight, it just won’t be easy. His best bet might be to rush Blaydes from the off, just as Ngannou did, and bank on him being too willing to trade or panicking into making sloppy errors.
However, I just don’t think that’s likely. It’s much more viable that Razor takes Lewis down early on, advances to the mount or back mount, and punches him very hard until the referee has to step in. A win like that would make Blaydes 11-2 in the UFC – and should net him a UFC title shot.
The Pick: Blaydes via second-round TKO
Published 15 Feb 2021, 18:11 IST
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