EXCLUSIVE | Curtis Blaydes vents on unappreciative fans, Brock Lesnar, and the changing landscape of MMA

Curtis Blaydes

Curtis Blaydes has earned a shot at UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. His recent dominations of Mark Hunt and Alistair Overeem make that pretty much undeniable. Unfortunately for Blaydes, the UFC has opted to give the next heavyweight title shot to Brock Lesnar, who has not legitimately won a fight since he choked out Shane Carwin in 2010.

When it was first announced that Lesnar would get the next heavyweight title shot, Curtis Blaydes was not happy. He did not hide his disappointment either, venting frequently on social media. 

More recently, however, the streaking heavyweight contender has accepted that this sport is far from perfect, and that title shots do not always go to the most deserving contender. Having realized this, Blaydes now plans on beating whoever the UFC puts in front of him until they’re left with no choice but to give him a title shot. That quest will start on November 24, when he rematches former title challenger Francis Ngannou in the main event of the UFC’s debut in Beijing.

“At one point the sport was based off a meritocracy, like who you beat, how you beat them, all that, but it’s not about that no more,” Curtis Blaydes said on the latest episode of BJPENN.COM Radio. “I’ve realized that and I’m not going to harp against it no more. It is what it is. I’m a adult and I can accept things I have no control over.”

“I just accepted what it is,” he continued. “Eventually, the belt will be mine, and once it’s mine, [other fighters] have to beat me to get it, so it doesn’t matter who they get [to challenge for the title]. They can get me whoever they wanna get me. If they want to give me Brock Lesnar, and I have the belt, that’s easy money. If they wanna give me another random star, like [former NFL player] Greg Hardy or whatever, that’s easy money. Once I have the belt, it doesn’t matter.”

The UFC’s questionable matchmaking practices hasn’t been the only thing to draw the ire of Curtis Blaydes of late. The heavyweight contender has also criticized MMA fans, many of whom seem to forget the extreme lengths that fighters go to for our entertainment.

While Blaydes has been critical of the way some fight fans treat fighters, however, he doesn’t want to seem ungrateful.

“I want to be here,” he said. “This is the best way for me to improve the future of my daughter. The world revolves around money and if I have more of it, I can make her life better. And this is the best opportunity to do that. I won’t get this money being a police officer, or being a teacher or being whatever. This is the best way. So I’m going to be there until my skills deteriorate.”

“These are just my opinions,” he continued. “It’s like if a police officer pointed out something he feels is bad about his department, doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to be a police officer, [it] just means he feels whatever he pointed out needs to be fixed.”

“That’s all I’m saying… That statement [about the fans], I should’ve prefaced it with ‘the casual fans’. I know there’s a lot of fans who are educated, they understand the dangers we are putting our bodies through in order to provide them with an entertaining bout. But then there’s a demographic of the fans who, they don’t give a shit, they don’t. I don’t think that makes me evil for pointing it out. If you don’t agree, you don’t agree. But that’s my opinion.”

“This is a combat sport, so health is always going to be on the line. I just wish that a lot more fans were a lot more appreciative.”

If there are fans out there who don’t appreciate what MMA fighters put their bodies through — and there’s really no denying that’s the case — Curtis Blaydes feels that this might be a bi-product of the UFC’s involvement with figures like Phil Brooks (CM Punk) and even Brock Lesnar. Blaydes feels that, when fans see these people compete in the Octagon, they develop the perception that MMA is easier than it actually is.

“That’s the problem with guys like Brock Lesnar or guys like Phil Brooks, it lends to the idea that this sport is not that hard,” he said. “[That] anyone can do it. Anyone can just jump in there and put up a good fight. It’s not [easy]. These are highly skilled badasses that can really hurt normal people.”

“When I’m going in there and going against another highly skilled, 250 pound dude, if I choose to wrestle to preserve my body for future fights and longevity, and just being healthy after my career’s over, I don’t feel like people should hate on it so much. I’m winning the fight. It should be on my opponent to stop my wrestling. Why should I give him the pass for not knowing how to wrestle?”

Given Curtis Blaydes’ thoughts on Brock Lesnar and CM Punk, you can probably imagine how he feels about the recent talk of YouTube star Logan Paul competing in the UFC. While Blaydes is pretty put-off by this idea, however, his new philosophy seems to be to accept that the fight game has changed; that the fights that make sense now play second fiddle to the ones that make money.

“That’s the world we live in now,” he said. “This is gonna happen a lot more. [Logan Paul] will not be the last. I wish he were a heavyweight. I wouldn’t mind an easy pay check. After Ngannou that would be nice. Take on a YouTuber?”

What do you think of Curtis Blaydes’s comments on the changing landscape of MMA?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/4/2018.