Curtis Blaydes Shakes Of Mark Hunt “Bombs” To Win At UFC221
The co-main event at UFC 221 saw a clash between an up-and-comer and an absolute legend when Curtis Blaydes took on Mark Hunt in front of a packed arena in Perth, Western Australia.
After going 5-0 as a pro, Blaydes made his UFC debut against Cameroonian powerhouse Francis Ngannou back in August 2016.
He lost that tough clash by way of a TKO: his only defeat, going into this one. Since then, Blaydes (8-1, 1 NC before this fight) went undefeated in four fights with three wins and a ‘no contest’.
That NC was originally a TKO win for Blaydes but it was overturned after he tested positive for marijuana.
Before this one went down, the highly talented wrestler said that he wasn’t expecting a fight against someone as high-profile as the Super Samoan so soon in his career.
“I’m appreciative that the UFC’s gonna give me the chance to fight a living legend,” Blaydes said at a pre-fight media event. “I wasn’t expecting it so soon, but I’m happy they did it. I’m looking forward to putting on a show.”
The Illinois native stated that he had a huge amount of respect for his opponent, a man who has been competing in combat sports since 1999.
“I’ve always respected Mark Hunt, I don’t have the style, obviously, but you can’t help respect a guy who’s been doing it for as long as he has at the level he has. I know he doesn’t have the best record, but everyone knows he only fights the best of the best.”
He even compared Hunt to two basketball legends of yesteryear:
“He’s like a Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley…I watched a lot of his highlights – him dropping guys, I know he’s got a nasty hook. I can already see myself slipping an uppercut, and thinking ‘oh my god, I just slipped a Mark Hunt uppercut.'”
While he insisted that he wasn’t looking past the dangerous Blaydes, Hunt knew that a victory here would set him up for one last run at the title.
“If I beat Curtis Blaydes I get a fighter above him, a top three guy, and then fight for the title.”
With four guys ranked above him, the Super Samoan insisted that he would be keen for a showdown with any of them, provided they weren’t abusing PED’s.
“I’d like to fight all of them,” Hunt said before this fight. “I’ve asked for Fabricio, but I want to fight anyone above me. Francis Ngannou told me he wanted to fight me when we were in Las Vegas. He was like, ‘I want to fight you, I want to fight you.’ So I said, ‘let’s do it, baby.’ I can fight all of these guys. I can rematch with Alistair – if he’s not cheating – I mean, there’s a lot of guys I can fight. I’ll fight all of the top guys. I’ve fought most of them anyways. It’ll be great.”
The bookmakers installed Blaydes as the warm favourite at $1.60 while Hunt was paying $2.35 to walk off with the win.
Blaydes moved around a lot during the first round and appeared confident on his feet as he looked to fight outside of Hunt’s range. After a bit of a feeling out process by Hunt, he unloaded several bombs which and looked to close in on a finish. Blaydes stumbled around and eventually landed a take down out of desperation more than anything, managing to get to the end of the round.
Unfortunately for local fans, there wasn’t a lot more to like about the fight after the first round. Blaydes decided to fight a lot more conservatively, sticking to his strengths and landed take downs for the rest of the fight. He managed to pick up Hunt with ease on multiple occasions, and while he couldn’t find the finish, he landed a lot of punches and elbows from top position for most of the fight.
Despite losing the fight on the scorecards with ease (30-26, 30-26, 30-27), Hunt showed great heart and determination despite minimal opportunities.
Check out Hunt’s punches from the first round here and let us know your thoughts on Blaydes as a legitimate contender in the heavyweight division!