Curtis Blaydes reminded everyone why he’s still one of the heavyweight division’s most intriguing contenders.
It wasn’t a thrilling performance, but Blaydes (11-2, 1 NC) was in complete control on Saturday night as he used his high-level wrestling to dominate Justin Willis (8-2) for three rounds en route to a unanimous decision victory via scores of 30-27, 30-26, 30-25 in the co-main event of UFC Nashville at Bridgestone Arena.
Willis simply had no answer for Blaydes’s wrestling. Right away, Blaydes pushed in for a takedown and it took him a little over a minute to secure the first one. He stayed stuck to Willis throughout round one and two, staying heavy on the back of “Big Pretty” and repeatedly slamming or dragging him down to the canvas whenever Willis was able to stand up.
Blaydes stayed busy enough on the ground to keep Willis uncomfortable, landing short punches throughout the fight to rack up points.
On the feet there wasn’t much Willis could do with the fear of the takedown on his mind. It was Blaydes who landed the best strike of the fight, clipping Willis with a straight right that sent him spinning.
The final round was light on activity, but Blaydes kept pushing forward and looking for takedowns, eventually scoring one with 90 seconds to go to seal the deal.
It was a strong bounce-back performance for Blaydes, who saw a four-fight win streak snapped in his last outing this past November when he was put away inside of a minute by Francis Ngannou. He has now won five of his last six fights.
There was plenty of trash talk exchanged between Blaydes and Willis in the lead-up to the contest and Blaydes made sure to mention that during his post-fight interview.
“It feels so good to shut him up,” Blaydes said. “‘Big Titty’ go home, go home and learn to wrestle. Go home!”
This was Willis’s first loss inside the Octagon after going 4-0 to start his UFC career.
Back in the win column, Blaydes is looking to fight another top contender next. Asked who he has in his sights, he mentioned wanting to face either Junior dos Santos, Derrick Lewis, or Stipe Miocic.