London party

Blaydes seeks to overpower the less experienced Aspinall in enemy territory

Curtis Blaydes and Tom Aspinall, UFC ceremonial weigh-in in London, July 22, 2022 Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Tom Aspinall will be looking to deliver an encore performance at home in the UK, but the more experienced Curtis Blaydes will be looking to spoil the party at UFC London.

Somehow, it feels like Curtis Blaydes was set up to propel the latest young contender forward. “Razor” is set to headline the UFC’s return to the UK after arguably the best Fight Night event in the promotion’s history earlier this year at the same venue. Most notably, he takes on a rising homegrown star who should have the support of the entire arena when they step into the cage on Saturday. If he picks up a win over Blaydes, he is expected to be in line to fight for a title on his next outing.

That doesn’t take into account the 31-year-old’s stunning resume. At 16-3, his only defeats came at the hands of elite opponents like Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis. A part of the UFC since 2016, Blaydes’ losses eclipse his many wins against Junior dos Santos, Mark Hunt, Alistair Overeem, Aleksei Oleinik, Chris Daukaus and Alexander Volkov. A win over Aspinall would be his third in a row and continue to advance his case as the promotion’s top five heavyweights. Although a title shot is likely out of reach as long as Ngannou holds the title, he would remain on the shortlist in the event of a turnover at the top of the division.

Englishman Tom Aspinall was the biggest beneficiary of what is billed as one of the best Fight Night events in UFC history. In March, the evening saw almost all of her compatriots give birth under the bright lights of London. By the time he entered the cage as the main event, the energy in the O2 Arena had reached a crescendo usually reserved for the sport’s most anticipated title fights. Aspinall took advantage of this, making quick work of perennial contender Alexander Volkov to launch himself into the title trail in the competitive heavyweight division.

The win extended his winning streak to eight straight and set the stage for a recall to the O2 on Saturday. If he dispatched the dangerous Blaydes, it would be hard to deny him a title eliminator, if not a chance to win the title. That said, Saturday will be the toughest test of his career on paper. “Razor” has twice come close to winning a title and poses a skill set that gives trouble to anyone in the heavyweight division. If Aspinall is indeed ready to fight the best of the best, then he will have to show it on Saturday.

Blaydes’ size and physicality should be the biggest x-factor for Aspinall. The Englishman is a powerful and well-rounded athlete in his own right, but Blaydes’ size and speed as he goes in and out for strikes and takedown attempts could cause him problems. Although Blaydes has dangerous skills that could end the fight sooner, a disciplined five-round approach should be exercised as he tries to test Aspinall’s gas tank and take less risk. For Aspinall, a multi-faceted attack will be key as he tries to keep Blaydes from settling into his attack as much as possible.

The winner is expected to meet the winner of the upcoming fight between Cyril Gane and Tai Tuivasa. Currently the title is locked as champ Francis Ngannou looks to book a blockbuster boxing showdown with Tyson Fury while the UFC looks set to set up a Jon Jones vs Stipe Miocic fight for an interim title so that Ngannou’s return to the cage is greater in 2023. Depending on the state of the winner on Saturday and the winner in Paris, a meeting in late 2022 or early 2023 is scheduled as this will leave all parties available to step in if injuries or d Other delays keep one of the title challengers away. functioning.