Blaydes wants to stay with the UFC and face the best competition in the world
Fight camps can vary in length across mixed martial arts, depending on when a fighter accepts a bout and when the event is taking place.
For heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes, he had a full camp to prepare for a fight against Derrick Lewis last November that was ultimately cancelled, and another ahead of their rescheduled UFC Fight Night bout this Saturday.
The promotion’s No. 2 ranked heavyweight was happy to have more time to prepare and put the extra training to good use.
"It doesn’t hurt having an extra long camp, can’t hurt,” Blaydes told TSN. “I think it has given me the time to focus on smaller details of my game and we’ve been addressing some of the minor details when it comes to my jiu-jitsu. I think the extra time can only help me.”
One thing that will not be changing, no matter the length of training camp, is Blaydes’ game plan. Wrestling is the elite skill that has gotten him this far and he plans to continue riding it, unless forced to go a different way during a fight.
"With Junior (dos Santos), he stuffed them, we altered the game plan and we still won,” said Blaydes. “I can strike if I have to, but I’m not going to play that game, this is heavyweight. If I was a bantamweight or a lightweight or a welterweight, I’d play that game, because you can eat five, six heavy punches and the risk isn’t the same.”
"At heavyweight? It can be a heavy jab and that could be the fight, it could be lights out. The money’s on the line, I have a family. People don’t care because they think we’re rich, I’m not rich, I’m doing all right and in order to maintain the lifestyle that I have right now, I have to win by any mean necessary. I’m here just to get the W.”
Getting an opponent to the ground and wearing or pounding them out remains Blaydes’ go to move, but as far as the striking goes, he feels his skills are still imporving. He describes himself as a seven, but hopes someday to reach the level of one of his Elevation Fight Team teammates, a fighter that earned himself a big victory two weeks ago.
"I’ve still got an upwards trajectory, there’s still so much I’ve got to add to my game,” said Blaydes. “I’ve got years and years of growth left. Eventually, when I retire, I’d like to be a 10 like Cory (Sandhagen), but who knows because Cory, he’s a ninja so that’s a lofty aspiration of mine.”
With only one contender between himself and the champion and a four-fight winning streak in his back pocket heading into Saturday, it would only seem logical to expect that Blaydes would be next in line for a title shot with a victory.
However, current champion Stipe Miocic is scheduled to defend against Francis Ngannou and UFC president Dana White has said that former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will fight the winner.
While not happy about that outcome, Blaydes gets why the promotion would go in that direction at the top of the division.
"I understand this is business. Jon Jones is a name, Jon Jones is one of THE names,” said Blaydes. “For him to bump up to heavyweight, why would the UFC waste the opportunity to squeeze the most profit out of him? The best way to get the most profit out of him is to have him jump the line and compete for the heavyweight title shot. I get it, it’s not hard to understand.”
As Blaydes approaches the end of his current UFC fight contract, staying in the promotion is a priority for him, as is getting to the top of the mountain,
“You want to be in the UFC, this is where the best of the best are," said Blaydes. "You win this belt, it means so much more as opposed to having a belt for Bellator or does PFL even have a belt? I don’t even know. The UFC is the gold standard, that’s where the best of the best are and that’s where you want to build your legacy. One day I’d like to be in the UFC Hall of Fame, that’s the goal.”
So where does that leave the soon to be 30-year-old fighter? He’s still targeting that title shot, but like his game plan inside the Octagon, he’s ready to make an adjustment when necessary.
"Originally the plan was to win this one and then wait for my title shot. I think that’s still going to be the game plan we’re going with right now, but it’s not in concrete so it can change, It depends on who’s available and what are the pros and cons of that person and that potential matchup.”