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Curtis Blaydes calls for UFC heavyweight title eliminator bout, ‘I deserve it’

Curtis Blaydes recently headlined at UFC London.

Curtis Blaydes won his UFC London headliner in just 15 seconds on Friday night. However, it wasn’t how he would have expected or wanted. Blaydes was the beneficiary of a TKO win after his opponent, Tom Aspinall, injured his knee after throwing a leg kick.

Blaydes was on The MMA Hour yesterday. There he told Ariel Helwani that he was befuddled and bummed with how the fight ended. However, he said he wasn’t looking to run it back.

“I’m not risking my ranking [for an immediate rematch],” he said. “I won the fight. Heading into this fight, I envisioned the winner — which is me — would be fighting the winner of [Tai] Tuivasa and [Ciryl] Gane. So I’m not going to pass up an opportunity to fight those guys when it’s right there, to wait for Tom Aspinall to heal and run it back.”

“I’m not going to fight someone again ranked below me,” added Blaydes (ht bjpenn). “I did it for Aspinall because I knew a win over him would be legitimate, and he’s ranked sixth but could easily be top five. So, that was different. But, I’m not going to fight someone ranked below me. I want the winner of Tai Tuivasa [vs. Ciryl Gane]. I’ve earned it, I deserve it. I’ve been in the Top five since 2018, ever since I beat Alistair [Overeem]. I deserve a title eliminator fight.”

Blaydes is currently ranked fourth in the UFC’s heavyweight rankings. Above him are Tuivasa, Gane and former champion Stipe Miocic. All are vying for a shot at champion Francis Ngannou, who has faced and defeated them all expect Tuivasa.

Blaydes himself has two losses against Ngannou. The first was an awkward doctor stoppage due to an eye injury at UFC Fight Night: Rothwell vs. dos Santos in 2016. The second was a definitive 45-second TKO at UFC Beijing in 2018.

Since that loss Blaydes has gone 7-1 in the UFC with his sole loss coming to Derrick Lewis last year. During that run he’s defeated Chris Daukaus, Jarizinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Volkov.

Blaydes said he understands that his most recent result is not going to win him many fans or provide much momentum for him. But he said he’s not too concerned about that and is just looking forward to his next opportunity in the Octagon.

“As long as I knock out the next guy, the hype’s back. MMA is like that. You could win four fights in a row, lose a fight, everyone says you suck. You could lose three in a row, win one, and you’re the greatest in the world. So the last fight’s the only one that matters.”

When addressing the fight with Aspinall, Blaydes contended that he was a clear and justified winner despite how the bout ended.

“Everyone was hyping up [Aspinall’s] speed. He’s not as fast as you guys make it seem to be. I know it was only 15 seconds, but every exchange, he got touched. In a lot of his highlights, when he’s sparking these guys, it’s because they’re stagnant. They don’t move their feet, which is what I do. So I just don’t believe the hype. I don’t think he’s as fast as everyone thought he was. Obviously he’s also not as big as everyone made him out to be. I felt like I was bigger, more athletic, more explosive, and obviously I think my bones are stronger, because he landed the kick on me and he ended up getting injured.

“So I don’t know. It’s a weird night. Really hard to come up with witty answers with a win like that. It’s hard to be hyped up about it.”