Last weekend, in the co-main event of UFC 221, Chicago’s Curtis Blaydes burst into heavyweight title contention with an impressive, unanimous decision win over veteran knockout artist Mark Hunt.
While Blaydes’ win was impressive, however, it was not without close calls. Mid-way through the first round, he was rocked badly by his veteran foe, and seemed to be one or two clean shots away from going down. Yet demonstrating remarkable calm under pressure, the rising contender completed a takedown, which allowed him to clear the proverbial cobwebs and control Hunt for the remainder of the rounds. From there, Blaydes leaned on his tremendous grappling skill to dominate the rest of the fight, which led to a clear unanimous decision win.
Amazingly, despite the fact that that it’s 2018 and people have had about 30 years to accept wrestling as part of the MMA arsenal, there are still fans out there who have been critical of Blaydes’ wrestling-heavy strategy. The heavyweight talent has been widely criticized by a slew of crumb-covered, armchair fighters who would have preferred to see him recklessly engage his brick-fisted opponent in a slug-fest than rely on his bread and butter and wrestle.
Though it seems insane that it has come to this, Blaydes recently addressed his critics on Twitter, recommending they go watch boxing or kickboxing if they’re not interested in watching MMA’s grappling-based components from time to time.