Plenty on the Line when Curtis Blaydes Meets Derrick Lewis at UFC Vegas 19

In a UFC heavyweight showdown, Curtis Blades will face Derrick Lewis at UFC Vegas 19 this weekend.

Updated: Feb. 18, 2021 • 2:46 PM ET

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Derrick Lewis is seeking his 25th victory in his MMA career.

UFC Vegas 19 will take place this Saturday featuring a heavyweight showdown with major title implications, as No. 2 ranked Curtis Blaydes battles hard-hitting former title challenger and No. 4 ranked Derrick Lewis.

Blaydes (14-2 overall, 9-2, 1 NC in UFC) has won four straight fights, most recently defeating Alexander Volkov by unanimous decision last June. His only losses have both come to Francis Ngannou, who will challenge Stipe Miocic for the title a second time at UFC 260 in March.

Other than when in the Octagon with Ngannou, Blaydes has looked unbeatable with key wins over former champion Junior dos Santos, Shamil Abdurakhimov, Justin Willis, former title challenger Alistair Overeem, Mark Hunt and Aleksei Oleinik. With a convincing win over a third former title challenger, perhaps Blaydes would be next in line for the title shot he has long waited for. However, UFC president Dana White told TMZ last week that former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will face the winner of Miocic and Ngannou.

If what White said is true, Blaydes won’t be in a rush for a title shot and will wait to see what happens.

“I just roll my eyes,” Blaydes told MMA Fighting. “I’m not old, so I’m not in a rush, so I’ll get there eventually. Honestly, it’s not even a guarantee that Jon will take the fight, cause I heard he also has his eyes on the winner of the Izzy (Israel Adesanya) versus [Jan] Blachowicz fight. If he’s got his eyes on that one, he’s not all in on this heavyweight matchup, so it’s not a guarantee. I’m not worried about it. If it does happen, I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“Worst case, I’ve always iterated, if I have to clean out the division, I will. I will do that. I have a family at home that I provide for, so the more active I am, the better for them. The ultimate goal is the belt, but we’ll get there.”

If anyone other than Ngannou is champion, Blaydes will likely get a title shot sooner. But if he’s willing to wait and keeps winning, it doesn’t matter who the champion is. The 29-year-old Blaydes, though, cannot look beyond Lewis, who has the power to end any fight with one shot.

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Lewis (24-7, 1 NC overall, 15-5 in UFC) will ride a three-fight winning streak into Saturday’s fight with wins over Blagoy Ivanov, Ilir Latifi and most recently a TKO win over Oleinik in August. The winning streak has been a great rebound for Lewis after losing two straight, first to Daniel Cormier for the title at UFC 230, followed by a bad TKO loss to Dos Santos in 2019.

Lewis has fought in the UFC since 2014 with key wins over Ngannou, Volkov, Abdurakhimov, Marcin Tybura, Travis Browne, Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga. For Lewis to win on Saturday, he’ll have to avoid Blaydes’ wrestling and ground-and-pound. Blaydes is one of the best in the division at both skillsets, but he has to look out for Lewis’ powerful right hand.

Can Lewis disguise his strikes enough that Blaydes won’t have an easy time changing levels for the takedown?

With a win, Lewis would shake up the heavyweight division. It would also establish a more ethical path for Jones to challenge for the title next, despite Blaydes saying he doesn’t mind waiting.

 

The rest of the main card on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. EST

Women’s bantamweight bout - No. 6 Ketlen Vieira vs. No 7 Yana Kunitskaya

Featherweight bout - Charles Rosa vs. Darrick Minner

Heavyweight bout - No. 10 Aleksei Oleinik vs. Chris Daukaus

Middleweight bout - Phillip Hawes vs. Nassourdine Imavov

Heavyweight bout - Andrei Arlovski vs. Tom Aspinall

 

Prelims on ESPN+ at 5 p.m. EST

Featherweight bout - Jared Gordon vs. Danny Chavez

Lightweight bout - Drakkar Klose vs. Luis Pena

Bantamweight bout - Eddie Wineland vs. John Castaneda

Featherweight bout - Nate Landwehr vs. Julian Erosa

Women’s flyweight bout - Shana Dobson vs. Casey O’Neill

Featherweight bout - Chas Skelly vs. Jamall Emmers

Bantamweight bout - Aiemann Zahabi vs. Drako Rodriguez

Heavyweight bout - Serghei Spivac vs. Jared Vanderaa