Curtis Blaydes doesn’t fully understand the recently announced interim heavyweight title fight either, but he’s eager to see how it plays out.
The UFC announced on Monday that Derrick Lewis’s next fight would be against Ciryl Gane – not Francis Ngannou – at UFC 265, and that the fight will be for an interim heavyweight title. The news was met with shock by some and confusion by others, as Ngannou had just recently claimed his title with a victory over Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 in March. However, the UFC appeared dead set on having Lewis compete in front of his hometown faithful in Houston, and when Ngannou said he wouldn’t be ready until September, the organization opted to put this title fight together instead.
Blaydes spoke with LowKick MMA’s James Lynch, where he discussed the new pairing among other things. He said that he believes the fight was put together after negotiations with Ngannou’s camp turned sour. While he was caught off guard by the matchup, he has an idea how it will turn out.
“I guess my initial reactions was the negotiations between Francis and the UFC must have turned bad at some point and this was plan B,” Blaydes told Lynch. “My guess is if Derrick wins, they force that rematch, and if Cyril wins… I don’t know exactly. Personally, I believe that Derrick is going to win and they’re going to get that rematch.”
Despite picking against Gane in the title fight, Blaydes insists it’s not a slight on the French contender. In fact, he was impressed with what he saw in Gane’s recent victory over Alexander Volkov. However, there were a few things that Blaydes didn’t see that his him siding with his American counterpart.
“I think (Gane) moves great,” Blaydes said. “He has great movement and he does a great job of creating angles. But he doesn’t always capitalize on that angle. I felt like there were a few instances where he could have gone in for the kill shot and he didn’t take the opportunity. Maybe that’s just not his style, but I thought that was interesting. Most heavyweights, it’s hard for them to have the patience to not just jump in when they smell blood. So, he fights like a veteran. I think it will be a good matchup, him versus Derrick Lewis.”
Blaydes believes that Gane’s unwillingness to put ‘The Black Beast’ away when he has the chance will ultimately lead to his down fall. He said that the longer fighters are in the cage against Lewis, the more likely it is that they’ll be dragged into the kind of brawl he is looking for. It was that very mistake that cost Blaydes in his fight against Lewis, and he thinks Gane will suffer the same fate.
“I think (Lewis is) able to just absorb these shots and it frustrates guys,” said Blaydes. “I know it frustrated me. I was landing a lot of good shots and that’s why the takedown attempt that I did in the second round that he caught me with the uppercut with, it was a bit of a rush job. I felt that my strikes weren’t doing enough, but obviously going back and watching the film, I was wrong. I was winning on the feet. He knows how to frustrate guys into coming into his range. He knows he doesn’t have the athleticism to play that game, the dancing game. He knows that’s not what he is, that’s not his game. He knows how to bring you into his world. If you ever do stop moving and he’s there and he lands, it could be lights out.”
Curtis Blaydes is sure to have his eyes on the fight and the outcome, regardless of who wins. He has a fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruik at the following pay-per-view, UFC 266. A win there could very well vault him back into the title picture, and he could soon see himself squaring off against either man by the end of the year.
The introduction of an interim title may make things hectic for the fighters involved, but it will sure be lots of fun to watch play out.
Do you agree with Curtis Blaydes that Derrick Lewis will win against Ciryl Gane? Let us know!