Heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes prepared to “listen to Bellator” as current UFC contract nears end

Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes

Last weekend, in the co-main event of UFC 221, Chicago’s Curtis Blaydes established himself as one of the heavyweight division’s top contenders with a decision win over legendary knockout artist Mark Hunt. While this win propelled Blaydes into the uppermost reaches of the heavyweight ladder, however, it almost marked the second last obligation on his current UFC contract.

Now, Blaydes is looking ahead to the last fight of his contract. It’s his hope that the UFC will meet him at the negotiating table before this final contractual obligation occurs. If this isn’t the way things shake out, he’s prepared to field offers from Bellator, who would surely jump at the chance to sign a heavyweight of his caliber.

“If the UFC allows me to get to that fourth fight without a decent offer, I’ll listen to Bellator,” Blaydes told MMAJunkie after his win over Hunt.

At present, Bellator’s heavyweight division its very one of its best. The strength of this division has manifested itself in a compelling Heavyweight Grand Prix, which features names like Fedor Emelianenko, Matt Mitrione, Roy Nelson, and Frank Mir. While this tournament has drawn a lot of gazes in Bellator’s direction, Blaydes still feels the level of competition is much stronger in the UFC. But given the hefty contracts Bellator has been dishing out, that’s not necessarily a bad thing in his eyes.

“They’ve been offering guys fat, fat contracts, and those heavyweights aren’t nearly as good as the ones in the UFC,” Blaydes said. “So the enticement is there – lesser competition for more money.”

At the end of the day, money is what it’s all about for Blaydes.

“I don’t care if no one ever learns my name, as long as my bank account is full,” he said. “Because I’m not getting hit in the face just because I like it.

“I know there are guys who enjoy getting hit in the face. They enjoy the rush. They enjoy the adrenaline. I don’t. I don’t like getting hit in the face. It pisses me off. I’m only doing it because we’re getting paid. If we weren’t getting paid, I wouldn’t do this.

“I’m not one of those guys like, ‘If we were two guys in the backyard, I would still throw down.’ I would not. I’m in it for the money. I don’t feel bad about that at all.”

Do you think the UFC will offer Curtis Blaydes a new contract, or could Bellator end up snagging the rising heavyweight star?

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/12/2018.