On March 23, at UFC Nashville, dangerous heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes will look to distance himself from a tough loss to Francis Ngannou as he takes Justin Willis.
Heading into this matchup, the wrestling specialist Blaydes expects Willis to be well-prepared, as he trains at American Kickboxing Academy alongside top heavyweight wrestlers like Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez.
“I’m pretty happy with the match up,” Blaydes said on episode 111 of BJPENN Radio. “He asked for me and it just worked out.
“I think he’s got solid boxing and I know he trains at AKA with Cain and DC and all those other good grapplers,” he continued. “So I’m expecting him to be a confident grappler.”
While Curtis Blaydes expects his UFC Nashville foe to be well prepared, he believes that his own world-class wrestling and immeasurable athleticism will carry him to victory.
“I still believe I’m the better grappler because I believe [I have the] best wrestling in the heavyweight division,” he said. “And I know he’s got power. I mean every heavyweight’s got power. I’ve got power.
“I think I hold the advantage when it comes to the speed, athleticism, wrestling and I just I think I’m the better fighter overall.”
Heading into this fight, Curtis Blaydes has been training hard in Colorado, oftentimes with undefeated UFC light heavyweight contender Dominick Reyes. He says his work with Reyes, who he shares a manager with, is always fruitful.
“We’ve trained together off and on for the past two years now,” he said. “We have the same manager. So I always like when Dom comes up ’cause he has really good footwork, he’s really long and he’s just a different look. We always get in some good rounds.”
Needless to say, Blaydes is confident he’ll get his hand raised in Nashville — most likely by way of stoppage.
“I see me working my angles, getting my boxing [going], getting my jab, getting it inside, crush his legs, get him on his back and then getting him in a really bad submission on the ground or just finishing with strikes, hopefully elbows,” he said, confidently offering a prediction for the matchup.
If Curtis Blaydes able to author the dominant victory envisions, he’s hoping it will remind the UFC brass that, despite a tough setback in his last outing, he remains one of the world’s top heavyweights.
“I just need the show the fans and also the bosses up at the UFC that the last fight wasn’t even my best,” he said. “I got caught, but it was aberration. It’s not me. I’m gonna go put on a show.”
“On Fight Night you guys can expect to see a lot of explosive movement, a lot of takedowns and a lot of heavy strikes,” he said. “2019 will be my year.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/12/2019.