Curtis Blaydes Seeking Title Shot Against Derrick Lewis at UFC Vegas 15
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Vegas 15 card, set to take place in Las Vegas.
Updated: Nov. 26, 2020 • 4:20 PM ET
Derrick Lewis is looking to move further up the UFC heavyweight rankings.
Update: The fight between Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis has been cancelled due to Blaydes testing positive for COVID-19.
Seeking and seemingly close to a UFC heavyweight title shot, No. 2 ranked Curtis Blaydes will main event UFC Vegas 15 this Saturday against former title challenger and No. 4 ranked Derrick Lewis at the Apex in Las Vegas.
Since losing badly to No. 1 heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou for the second time in 2018, Blaydes has won four straight fights, most recently defeating sixth-ranked Alexander Volkov by unanimous decision in June. His only career losses have come to Ngannou, who will likely challenge champion Stipe Miocic for the belt in early 2021 for a second time.
Including Volkov, the 29-year-old Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC) has key victories over Junior dos Santos, Shamil Abdurakhimov, Alistair Overeem, Mark Hunt and Aleksei Oleinik. A win over Lewis would add another victory over a former champion or title challenger to his resume, but Ngannou remains the only immovable object in Blaydes’ way.
The second fight between Blaydes and Ngannou lasted all of 45 seconds. If Blaydes wants to fight Ngannou a third time, should Ngannou win the belt from Miocic, he needs to produce spectacular finishes, starting with Lewis this weekend.
While Blaydes wants a title shot, some in the MMA community believe he should welcome former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones to heavyweight division. Blaydes, however, isn’t interested in fighting Jones and wants a title shot if he wins on Saturday.
When asked about fighting Jones, Blaydes said via TSN, “Naw, I’m not doing that. I win this fight, I want a title shot. I’m not gonna be canning orders to build-ups, I’ve already built up myself and I feel like I have the recognition that I don’t have to take that fight if I don’t need it. That’s a title fight. I’m not fighting Jon Jones to prove I deserve a heavyweight title shot — that’s ridiculous!”
Blaydes did offer a hint of hope for those clamoring for a fight between himself and Jones.
“This is only about the money,” Blaydes said. “That’s all it’s about. As long as the money’s right, I’m down.”
With a win over Lewis, it would be difficult to make an argument against Blaydes fighting for the title, regardless of who is champion. The only man that could stand in his way is Jones, or himself, if he looks beyond Lewis and falls victim to his power.
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Lewis is also on a winning streak, as his hand has been raised after each of his last three fights. The streak is a big rebound after Lewis lost by second-round submission in a title fight to Daniel Cormier in 2018 and followed that performance with a second-round TKO loss to Dos Santos in 2019. His most recent victory came over Aleksei Oleinik by second-round TKO in August, which gave Lewis the record for the most knockouts at heavyweight in the UFC’s history, adding to an already impressive resume.
The 35-year-old Lewis has become a fan favorite with his come-from-behind victories and, at times, bizarre post-fight interviews. A win over Blaydes would cause more confusion in an already slow-moving heavyweight division, but fans could clamor for a big matchup involving Lewis if that happens.
Including Oleinik, the Houston native has key victories over Ngannou, Ilir Latifi, Blagoy Ivanov, Alexander Volkov, Marcin Tybura, Travis Browne, Shamil Abdurakhimov, Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga.
The rest of the main card at 10 p.m. EST on ESPN+
Light Heavyweight bout - No. 6 Anthony Smith vs. Devin Clark
Heavyweight bout - Josh Parisian vs. Parker Porter
Welterweight bout - Miguel Baeza vs. Takashi Sato
Featherweight bout - Spike Carlyle vs. Bill Algeo
Prelims on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. EST
Women’s bantamweight bout - Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Norma Dumont Viana
Bantamweight bout - Martin Day vs. Anderson dos Santos
Women’s flyweight bout - Gina Mazany vs. Rachel Ostovich
Featherweight bout - Jonathan Pearce vs. Kai Kamaka
Flyweight bout - Su Mudaerji vs. Malcolm Gordon
Catchweight bout (140 pounds) - Luke Sanders vs. Joseph Maness