Take two for this huge heavyweight clash as Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis finally meet in the main event at UFC Vegas 19 this weekend.
The fight was originally scheduled for back in November, but was cancelled just hours before the weigh-ins after ‘Razor’ tested positive for COVID-19. The fight was scrapped, with Anthony Smith and Devin Clark stepping into the main event slot on short notice in a five round fight that was won by ‘Lionheart’.
After being planned for January, Conor McGregor’s return to the fight game meant that their prospective date was turned into a pay-per-view card and they were moved back even further once again but it has seemingly worked in their favour.
Since then we’ve seen Cyril Gane pick up a very convincing knockout win over Junior Dos Santos at UFC 256 in December, while Alexander Volkov was able to completely outclass Alistair Overeem at UFC Vegas 18 too.
With Volkov’s win, he moved into the conversation about title contention once again but both of these men have already beaten Volkov in the past. So a fight for him against one of them is unlikely, and he will likely fight the winner of Gane’s fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruik which takes place at UFC Vegas 20.
With the heavyweight title on the line next month when Stipe Miocic takes on Francis Ngannou at UFC 260, this fight has kind of created it’s own path for the winner because of the later date.
Jon Jones has already been guaranteed the next shot at heavyweight against the winner of that title fight, and with Volkov likely to get paired up with Gane or Rozenstruik that would leave the winner of this fight to take on the loser of the title fight to earn themselves a shot at the strap.
Lewis has fought for the title before, being dominated by Daniel Cormier in a second-round submission defeat back in 2018. He lost his next fight too, being knocked out by Junior Dos Santos but has since won three in a row. A win over Blaydes followed by a win over Ngannou or Miocic would almost guarantee him a shot at the crown next.
For Blaydes, the story is different though. He has lost only twice in his career, both times to Ngannou, with the first due to a doctor’s stoppage for a cut and the second via knockout in under a minute. Since then he has won four in a row and had it not been for Jones’ move up to heavyweight, he’d probably be next in line for a title shot.
Winning alone simply isn’t enough for Blaydes, after coming under fire for his style by Dana White after he beat Volkov back in June. He needs to win emphatically and make a statement in the process. With Jones’ title fight pencilled in for the summer, a win here for Blaydes could see him either wait out until the end of the year for a shot at the belt that he definitely would have earned – or take out the loser.
Whatever happens, the heavyweight title path is very clear for all involved right now. It’s a waiting game mostly unless your name is Miocic, Ngannou or Jones – or you can make a statement to try and jump the queue.