MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC on ESPN 18, a five-round heavyweight bout between Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis. The event takes place on Saturday, November 28 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Curtis Blaydes (-345)
Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC) is the No. 2 ranked heavyweight in the UFC. The 29-year-old American is one of the best heavyweights in the sport and has been for several years now. Since entering the UFC in 2016, Blaydes has gone 9-2, 1 NC with wins over the likes of Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, Alexander Volkov, Mark Hunt, and Aleksei Oleinik. Both of his career losses came against Francis Ngannou by knockout. Blaydes is so successful in the UFC because of his elite wrestling skills. He is generally able to take his opponents down to the mat at will and dominate them on the mat with his wrestling and ground and pound. On the feet, Blaydes is an improving striker although he is still primarily a grappler by nature. His cardio is decent for a big man, as well, making him well-rounded.
Derrick Lewis (+285)
Lewis (24-7, 1 NC) is the No. 4 ranked heavyweight in the UFC. The 35-year-old American joined the UFC in 2014 and he has since racked up a 15-5 record in the Octagon with wins over the likes of Francis Ngannou, Aleksei Oleinik, Alexander Volkov, Marcin Tybura, and Roy Nelson. He also has several notable losses to the likes of Daniel Cormier, Junior dos Santos, and Mark Hunt. Lewis is a huge heavyweight with massive knockout power. Out of his 24 career victories, 19 of those wins have come by knockout. Lewis is known for his crazy comebacks, as he owns five wins in the third round or later in the UFC by knockout. Although his takedown defense isn’t great, Lewis is able t survive with a lot of his opponents and drag them into deep waters and finish him. When he’s fought elite fighters in the heavyweight division he’s shown his holes, and that’s why he’s a big underdog here. But with the kind of one-punch KO power that he possesses, Lewis is always a wild card.
Fight Breakdown: Blaydes is one of the most dominant wrestlers the UFC heavyweight division has ever seen and I don’t expect that to be any different in this fight. Blaydes will look for the takedown as soon as the fight starts and I believe he will get them fairly easily in the early portion of the fight. As the fight goes on I see Blaydes continue to work his takedowns and score points with his ground and pound. The question is, can Blaydes get the finish, or is he going to win a decision? Lewis is fairly durable, but I expect Blaydes to spend a considerable portion of this fight in top position raining down strikes. At some point, I expect Lewis to fold up and lose via TKO. You always have to be mindful of Blaydes getting tired in the later rounds and Lewis possibly scoring another one of his patented upsets, but overall the stylistic matchup in this fight greatly favors Blaydes.
Prediction: Curtis Blaydes (via TKO)