Earlier this month, in the co-main event of UFC 218, surging French-Cameroonian heavyweight Francis Ngannou knocked out Alistair Overeem to earn a shot at reigning UFC heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic. This violent knockout win caused Ngannou’s hype to skyrocket to new and towering heights, but in the opinion of 9th-ranked heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes, the outcome of this fight had a lot to do with Overeem’s surprising game plan.
“I mean, I was a little surprised [how the fight went],” Curtis Blaydes said on the latest episode of BJ Penn Radio. “I wasn’t surprised at Ngannou. He did, definitely, what he should have done, [which] was just stand there and chuck [punches at] him, and it worked. I’m surprised that Overeem was so quick to engage in that type of action. Overeem’s a veteran, and him knowing that he doesn’t have the best chin anymore, I was a bit surprised at how eager he was [to trade].”
Blaydes, of course, his quite familiar with Ngannou, having battled him in his UFC debut back in April of 2016.
On the night of their first meeting, Ngannou came out on top, opening a cut over Blaydes’ that caused such severe swelling that the ringside physician stopped the contest between the second and third rounds. Should he meet Ngannou again down the road, however, Blaydes is confident he can win – especially if he’s given the full training camp he was deprived of ahead of their first meeting.
“I’m not really a fan of short camps or late notice fights,” Blaydes explained. “I won’t blame my loss to Ngannou on anything besides he was a better man that day, but I do feel I would have been better prepared had I had a full six to eight week camp as opposed to the three weeks I was given.”
“I want to do my best with every fight, and I feel like that requires a certain amount of time in between camps in order to break down film,” Blaydes said later in his interview, reiterating that he thrives when given adequate time to prepare. “It’s not just identifying a weakness. You actually have to put the time and the effort into it to fill that weakness. That takes a lot of time.”
Who do you think wins a rematch between Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 14/12/2017.