Curtis Blaydes has a main event fight coming up in January that he hopes will put him on the cusp of title contention.
Fresh off back-to-back wins in the division, Blaydes will face former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos at UFC Fight Night from Raleigh, N.C., on Jan. 25 and he knows a win keeps him the hunt for a shot at the belt.
The person holding the heavyweight title right now is Stipe Miocic. The champ’s next fight isn’t set in stone although all signs point towards an eventual trilogy with Daniel Cormier after they split a pair of fights in 2018 and 2019. Lately, Miocic has been lobbying for a chance to square off against boxing champion Tyson Fury and the British slugger has shown interest in the fight as well.
A few years ago, a UFC champion crossing over to boxing or vice versa would usually get laughed off but after Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather engaged in the second-highest grossing pay-per-view of all time for their fight in 2017, nothing seems impossible.
For his part, Blaydes can’t fault Miocic for making a case to earn a big payday against a boxer like Fury, even if it only serves to muddy the waters in the UFC heavyweight division.
“Apparently Stipe’s saying he’s interested in fighting Tyson Fury at boxing. That might put the DC trilogy on hold,” Blaydes said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I don’t put no energy into it. I know what’s going on but I don’t stay up in bed all night and think about all the possible alternate realities. You never know. It’s a little bit chaotic, you just have to learn to live with it.
“I really, really respect Stipe. I understand he wants the money. It’s a money grab. I get it. He would destroy Tyson [in MMA]. It would be a lot of money. Pay-per-views would be out the wazoo.”
As much as he understands the idea of crossing over for a massive paycheck, Blaydes can’t help but scoff at the idea while a long list of heavyweight contenders are lining up for a shot at the gold.
Blaydes briefly trained with Miocic a few years ago and he has nothing but the utmost admiration for the two-time heavyweight champion. However, he can’t help but selfishly hope that Miocic stays focused on his work ahead in the UFC.
“I respect him and I get why he wants the money but at the same time it does affect my timeline of what I want to get done. I do feel some type of way about it but I’m not going to bash Stipe. I get it,” Blaydes said.
“I get that but then again I’m in the midst of my career and how long do I have to wait for a title shot? How many more money grab fights do I have to wait through before I get a shot?”
If Miocic doesn’t get the fight with Fury and ends up back in the cage with Cormier again, Blaydes likes his chances to retain and then hopefully within the next year or so, they can clash with the heavyweight title on the line.
“I’ll go with Stipe [to win] again,” Blaydes said about the potential trilogy with Cormier. “Especially after both got a win under their belts, if they do fight again, the rounds are going to be a lot more explosive. They’ve both seen what the other one has and they won’t be as tentative. I still think Stipe’s the better striker and he definitely has the reach advantage.
“It all depends if DC goes in there with the mindset just to wrestle, he could probably win, but I think he has an ego. He wants to strike with Stipe and that will be his downfall. I would definitely love to see that happen [with me against Stipe] but right now I’m focused on JDS and we’ll go from there.”