Following Curtis Blaydes’ memorable and or horrifying win over Alistair Overeem at UFC 225, the rising heavyweight’s arguing he should be next in line for a title shot. Is he right?
Blaydes faced Overeem on the televised prelims of Saturday’s card. In round three, the explosive wrestler put away the decorated fighter with a vicious series of elbow from above, which left Overeem a bloody mess. The victory was the 27 year-old Blaydes fourth in a row, and it moved his overall UFC record to 5-1, with 1 no contest. After the emphatic and gory win, he relayed this :
“I knew this fight was a big one and I wanted to make sure I stepped up in my moment,” Blaydes said. “Overeem is a legend and a world champion. There’s no doubt that I am the next one in line for the title.”
“Give me Stipe, give me DC; all that matters is that I’m the next one in line.”
Now, as Blaydes alluded to, the champ Stipe Miocic is facing Daniel Cormier on July 7th, at UFC 226. So, could Blaydes be tapped for the winner (assuming Cormier remains at heavyweight and doesn’t vacate the belt to return to light-heavyweight)? It’s certainly possible.
After all, if you look at the top of the heavyweight ranks, the #1 ranked Ngannou fought for the title in January and lost to Miocic. The #2 ranked Overeem (that ranking will likely change shortly) is obviously not in the running. Former champ Junior dos Santos, who is currently ranked #5, is set to fight Blagoy Ivanov on July 14th. But, even if he scores a highlight reel win, because he lost to Miocic last year, he’s probably not eligible either.
Alexander Volkov is currently ranked #3, and on account of a six fight winning streak, which includes a stoppage win over Fabricio Werdum, he could be in the mix. But, since the former Bellator champ hasn’t fought since March, one would think the UFC will look to have him fight one more time in the interim.
And, we can’t forget that there’s also Brock Lesnar to consider, as Dana White dropped jaws earlier this year, by saying the former champ could be next for the winner of Miocic – Cormier. More recently, however, White has talked about the possibility of Lesnar facing Jon Jones. So, the promotion could go in that direction instead. After all, Lesnar hasn’t done anything from a meritocratic perspective to earn a title shot in 2018.
So, what could all this mean for Blaydes? If we were booking the next title fight now, and Cormier wasn’t in the picture, then yes, Blaydes would very likely be next. After all, he just destroyed the #2 contender and his only loss to date was via doctor stoppage to Ngannou. In other words, there’s no doubt that he deserves a shot.
But, until we see how UFC 226 plays out, and what happens with Jones and Lesnar, you just never know. Not in this day and age of MMA.