MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Vegas 19, a five-round heavyweight bout between Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis. The event takes place on Saturday, February 20 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Curtis Blaydes (-400)
Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC) is the No. 2 ranked heavyweight in the UFC. The 30-year-old American is one of the most dominant heavyweight fighters 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 Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, Alexander Volkov, Mark Hunt, and Aleksei Oleinik, to name a few. Both of his career losses came against Francis Ngannou by knockout. Blaydes has been successful in the UFC because of his elite wrestling skills. He is, for the most part, able to take his opponents down to the mat at will and dominate them on the mat with his wrestling and ground and pound. Once he gets on top of you, he’s almost unbeatable. He’s also been improving his striking while training with the Elevation Fight Team. His cardio is decent for a big man, as well, making him well-rounded and dangerous. With a win over Lewis here, Blaydes may very well get the heavyweight title shot that he covets.
Derrick Lewis (+325)
Lewis (24-7, 1 NC) is the No. 4 ranked heavyweight in the UFC. The 36-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 has an uncanny ability to survive early on and then come back late in shocking fashion. When Lewis has fought elite fighters in the heavyweight division he’s shown flaws 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, especially 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 whether or not he can finish this fight. 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. Of course, if Blaydes isn’t able to get the finish this fight could get more interesting later on. You always have to be mindful of Blaydes getting tired in the later rounds and Lewis possibly scoring another one of his patented upsets in this spot, but overall the stylistic matchup in this fight greatly favors Blaydes. The -400 moneyline on Blaydes is a heavy price to pay against a big puncher like Lewis, however, My pick is Blaydes to get the finish via ground and pound, but the odds make this a tricky fight to bet on.
Prediction: Curtis Blaydes (via TKO)