Curtis Blaydes, who is set to rematch Francis Ngannou in the main event of Saturday’s UFC Beijing card, is easily one of the best wrestlers in the UFC heavyweight division. And if things go according to plan, he believes he’ll retire as the best wrestler in the history of the division.
“If I’m not the best right now, today, I will be the best by the time I end my career,” Blaydes told MMAjunkie this week. “Because I’m going to end my career with at least 75 career takedowns.”
“I think people are giving ‘DC’ accolades on wrestling because he needed it early on in his career,” Blaydes continued, giving reigning heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier props for his wrestling skill. “But prior to the Derrick Lewis fight (at UFC 230), ‘DC’ hasn’t really relied on his wrestling. He kind of became more of a striker, which is fine because he’s got good boxing.”
While Daniel Cormier has come to rely on his boxing quite a bit, Curtis Blaydes assures he’ll never make this kind of adjustment to his game. He will always chase the takedown, and he has a good reason for doing so.
Blaydes wants to leave this sport with his brain intact, and using his wrestling to avoid cranium-rattling firefights on the feet is a great way to ensure that happens.
“I will never, ever go away from my wrestling,” he said. “I’m always going to look to get 2-5 takedowns every fight because it makes it easier. I know this is an entertainment sport, but I’m also looking to protect my brain. The best way for me to protect my brain is to get the other guy on his back.”
If Curtis Blaydes lands two takedowns on Francis Ngannou this weekend, he’ll set the record for most takedowns in UFC history. If he does so, where do you think he’ll rank among the best wrestlers in heavyweight MMA history?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/23/2018.