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UFC Vegas 19: Curtis Blaydes vs Derrick Lewis Preview

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Heavyweight contenders Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis square off this Saturday night at the UFC Apex with a possible title shot on the line in the main event of UFC Vegas 19. The winner will likely face the UFC heavyweight champion later this year should Jon Jones not be ready to take on the winner of Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou at UFC 260.

Blaydes is riding a four-fight win streak and will be hoping for a date with destiny with an opportunity at revenge over Ngannou should the Cameroonian win the heavyweight title.

While Lewis is coming off an explosive victory over Alexey Oleinik and riding a three-fight winning streak as he looks to establish himself amongst the very best in the division at UFC Vegas 19.

Curtis Blaydes

Curtis “Razor” Blaydes holds a 14-2 record, with both losses coming to number one ranked UFC heavyweight Francis Ngannou. The 29-year-old first fell to defeat during their initial meeting in his UFC debut where the American was stunned by the power of Ngannou on multiple occasions before a doctor’s stoppage due to the swelling of his eye. The loss meant Blaydes’ UFC debut ended in failure.

Blaydes obtained a five-fight winning streak following that loss. Heading into a rematch with Ngannou, he entered as a favourite. However, again, the fight took a more devastating fashion as Ngannou took only 45 seconds to leave his mark on the American; earning a second stoppage victory over Blaydes.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 20: Curtis Blaydes takes down Alexander Volkov of Russia in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 20, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Following on from that second loss, Blaydes is now riding a four-fight winning streak heading into UFC Vegas 19. Including a knockout victory over Junior Dos Santos, and a unanimous decision win over Alexander Volkov.

In the Dos Santos fight, after the Brazilian defended every takedown, Blaydes showcased his striking ability, making him more of a threat should he not get the fight where he is most comfortable. “Razor” landed heavy shots in both the first and second round before the referee had no option but to call the fight after the American wobbled Dos Santos in the second with a flurry of right hands and knees.

In his latest victory, Blaydes put on show a Khabib Esque performance, heavyweight edition, out wrestling Volkov for the majority of the five rounds to earn that dominant victory.

Derrick Lewis

Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis is 24-7 in his career while 15-5 inside the octagon. Lewis is known for his violent power, one punch is all it takes to go from losing to winning for “The Black Beast”.

The 36-year-old displayed this against currently number five ranked Russian heavyweight Alexander Volkov back in September of 2018. Lewis was looking set to fall to a crushing defeat on that night before it was a swift vicious right hand that won the contest for Lewis.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 08: (R-L) Derrick Lewis kicks Aleksei Oleinik of Russia in their heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 08, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

His knockout power was also on full display last time out seconds into the second round against submission specialist Alexey Oleinik. Putting the Russian straight onto his back with one right hand to which the American managed to stop the fight with some brisk ground-and-pound.

The main attraction of Derrick Lewis however is not only his destructive knockout power but also his personality which leaves his fans always wondering what is next to come out of the heavyweight star’s mouth. Many will be anticipating another comedic display in his post-fight interview should be triumphant at UFC Vegas 19.

Fight Breakdown

Curtis Blaydes is always looking to takedown his opponent. Junior Dos Santos avoided this during their bout over a year ago where Blaydes completed zero of six attempted takedowns. The Brazilian’s movement on his feet meant he never found himself being close to taken down by Blaydes. Derrick Lewis isn’t as mobile as Dos Santos therefore he may find it difficult to avoid being taken down.

Lewis’ takedown defense is a concern in the build-up to this fight sitting at 52% of takedowns attempted. Blaydes is tenacious and will be persistent on the takedown meaning he will inevitably get “The Black Beast” on the octagon floor at UFC Vegas 19.

Once Blaydes obtains this inevitable takedown then he will look to control Lewis, making sure his power is of null effect, before the “Razor” will look to add the damage through his power in the ground-and-pound.

Lewis is a knockout artist. As is advertised in his knockout reel and UFC record for most heavyweight knockouts with 11. Therefore, Lewis’ sole goal at UFC Vegas 19 will be to add yet another name to his long list of victims who have been brutalized by his power.

Unlike many knockout artists, Lewis can produce the devastating blow at any point in any fight. Blaydes will have to be wary of this the entire five rounds if he is to leave victorious at UFC Vegas 19.

Blaydes has stated in the build-up to UFC Vegas 19 that he will be looking for the takedown early and should he obtain it he will be on course towards a comfortable victory.

However, comfortability is something Lewis’ previous opponents know is never possible when locked into the octagon with “The Black Beast”. The 36-year-old’s threatening power is always there should he look for a way back from impending defeat.

Prediction

Curtis Blaydes is the clear favorite entering the main event of UFC Vegas 19, and rightly so, unlike Derrick Lewis he has more than one path to victory. Lewis’s sole focus will be to knock out Blaydes, and if he is unable to produce that outcome then he will know he will be in trouble.

Blaydes will look for the takedown early and should he receive it then expect some heavy ground-and-pound coming Lewis’ way over the five rounds. He may also turn to a submission as a possible path to victory. Though as shown in Lewis’ previous outing it has proven difficult for his opponents to pull this off, and can be a waste of energy to even pursue this.

Should Blaydes struggle to get Lewis out of the octagon early then he should be able to control Lewis to the distance and secure a unanimous decision in the main event of UFC Vegas 19.

As we have seen twice against Ngannou, Blaydes has struggled against power punchers. Should Lewis be able to overwhelm Blaydes early with an explosive start or defend the takedowns then he may be able to cause a shock by knocking out the number two ranked heavyweight and secure victory.

Otherwise, it may be just another day at the office for Blaydes as he secures another TKO stoppage or a unanimous decision victory on the main event of UFC Vegas 19.

Prediction: Curtis Blaydes via Ground and Pound TKO


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Dion Williams is a Combat Sports writer for Overtime Heroics covering mainly UFC but also Bellator and Cage Warriors!