The match-up slated to take place Saturday at UFC Vegas 19 between number two ranked heavyweight Curtis Blaydes and number four ranked heavyweight Derrick Lewis has been brewing for some time.
In fact, both fighters were calling for bouts against one another immediately after Lewis’s last fight, a victory over Aleksei Oleinik.
In the post-fight press conference from that card in August 2020, Lewis claimed he could take Blaydes down and punish him on the ground.
Speaking with MMAWeekly.com at the UFC Vegas 19 virtual media day, Blaydes said he chuckles at that idea.
“I think he was just saying that to elicit some response from the media, which I think that was achieved,” Blaydes said. “If he shoots, that means he’s having a bad day. Derrick does not want to wrestle.”
While Blaydes believes some of those comments made by Lewis could be attributed to his renown sense of humor, he also believes Lewis is genuinely underestimating his wrestling ability.
“He understands I’m a badass wrestler because I understand that he’s got some crazy power in his hands. I’m not gonna be facetious and be like ‘Yeah, I’m gonna stand and I’m gonna knockout Derrick in the first round.’ That’s just looking for clickbait,” Blaydes said. “That’s not my thing, that’s his thing.”
Curtis Blaydes heaps praise on teammate Cory Sandhagen, likens him to Anderson Silva
While Blaydes trained for his fight with Lewis, his teammate and number two ranked bantamweight Cory Sandhagen was preparing for his match-up with Frankie Edgar.
Blaydes said Sandhagen’s evolution as a fighter is something to behold, heaping high praise for the top ranked bantamweight.
“He was already good when I first joined Elevation and I got there almost five years ago,” Blaydes said. “But I’ve seen the growth and the maturation. I’ve seen him grow more confident in his techniques. I see him throw out all types of crazy techniques in the gym and it’s just amazing to watch.”
Blaydes believes Sandhagen has the potential to become one of the greatest strikers that the sport has ever seen.
“Imagine being in the gym watching Anderson Silva. I’m not comparing Cory to Anderson; I’m just saying I know Anderson has great hands,” Blaydes said. “I know he was probably pulling off some crazy techniques in the gym and the guys that were privy to watch it were probably like ‘Wow, we’re watching one of the best stand-up fighters of our generation,’ and I do believe Cory has the potential to be one of the best stand-up fighters of our generation.”
Blaydes also picked Sandhagen to win in a potential match-up against former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, who is returning from an USADA administered suspension after testing positive for EPO.
“I think that favors Cory; I do. I know TJ’s very powerful. I know his resume because when I got to Elevation, TJ was there too,” Blaydes said. “So I know what he’s about and I know he’s a good wrestler. But Cory man, he brings it all together.”
Blaydes hopes to bring another victory home to Elevation MMA along with Sandhagen’s when he takes on Derrick Lewis in the main event of UFC Vegas 19 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
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