Blaydes vs. Aspinall Set to Heat Up UFC Manchester?

Curtis Blaydes after his victory over Almedia wants to fight for the title of heavyweight champion, and Aspinall has nothing against it either

by Sededin Dedovic
Blaydes vs. Aspinall Set to Heat Up UFC Manchester?
© Megan Briggs / Getty Images

Since his UFC debut in early 2022, Jailton Almeida has gained respect and popularity in the harsh world of MMA. The Brazilian with exceptional grappling and grounding skills has been on a streak of victories inside the UFC Octagon, but many have wondered what will happen when he faces a fighter who can neutralize his grappling skills.

Although he had dominant performances using his grappling, critics claim that he did not have a real opponent who could defend himself. There are claims that this is the only thing he knows, and if there was an opponent who could resist his grappling, Almeida would have nothing else to offer.

We were supposed to get answers to these claims in November last year, but Curtis Blaydes was forced to cancel the match against Almeida, and Derrick Lewis came in instead. The "Black Beast" was definitely not a fighter capable of neutralizing Almeida, and the Brazilian won relatively easily.

Despite this, the UFC matchmakers did not give up on the idea of pairing Almeida and Blaydes. The UFC administration saw that fans and critics alike wanted to see these two fighters, and many believed that Blaydes could be an insurmountable obstacle for Almeida.

The logical sequence of events was the pairing of these two fighters in the Octagon. The fight was arranged for the UFC 299 event, and last weekend we had the opportunity to witness that very interesting fight. The fact that Almeida managed to knock down Blaydes as many as 9 times during the first five minutes of the fight sounds a bit unbelievable, but those who watched the match saw that Almeida was not able to achieve the control he had over his previous opponents.

Blaydes defended well, he lasted until the end of the round and was ready for what awaits him in the rest of the fight. However, after the first round, many already thought that even Blaydes was not ready to stop the excellent Almeida.

Curtis Blaydes punches Jailton Almeida of Brazil during their heavyweight bout at UFC 299 at Kaseya Center on March 09, 2024 in © Megan Briggs / Getty Images

Right at the beginning of the second round, Almeida tried again with the takedown, hoping to be successful as in the first round, but he failed to perform the double leg technique in a proper way and found himself in a very uncomfortable position.

The question is why Almeida tried this risky move when everything was going well for him and there was no need to take risks. He tried to connect the grip behind Blaydes' legs but failed. Blaydes defended well and saw an opportunity to end the match.

Recognized that Almeida was left exposed and in an awkward position, which allowed him to hit him with a series of powerful punches. Almeida didn't let go of Blaydes' legs even after a few punches, but he couldn't take so many punches in a short period of time and was knocked out 36 seconds into the second round.

This ended the great streak of the Brazilian fighter, who relaxed after good results lately. This victory is very important for Blaydes, and with the victory over Almeida, he kept his place in the top 5 of the heavyweight division, and now hopes to fight for the status of the interim champion.

Curtis has been a UFC fighter since 2016, and within the UFC he has achieved 13 wins, four losses. The American heavyweight has been at the very top of the heavyweight division for years, but he always somehow gets stuck before attacking the titles.

Now he defeated a really good opponent, and we will see if it will bring him a step forward in his career. Blaydes believes he has now earned a fight for at least the interim belt held by Tom Aspinall. They already fought and then Blaydes emerged as the winner.

But it was not a regular victory because Aspinall had to give up right at the start of the match due to an injury. It was the only defeat of the current interim heavyweight champion Aspinall. Blaydes, of course, wants a match with the interim champion, and he said so himself.

However, there are other candidates who want a match against Blaydes, and according to the media, it could be Cyril Gane. The Frenchman has not fought either Blaydes or Aspinall, and we will see what Dana decides. Judging by Blaydes' words, he doesn't want a match against Gane, but how much will he be able to influence that.

Tom Aspinall of England gets injured in the first round of his Heavyweight bout against Curtis Blaydes of USA during UFC Fight N© Julian Finney / Getty Images

"I feel like you're pushing me towards the Ghana match.

It's not going to happen. I've wanted that match in the past but he missed the opportunity. If Aspinall isn't my next opponent, we'll figure something else out. I'm not going to make any concrete decisions at this point because I don't know what's going to happen.

But I know it's not going to be Ghana," Curtis said during the UFC 299 post-event press conference. Curtis expressed his interest in a rematch with Aspinall immediately after his victory over Almeida. Whether he deserved that match or not is questionable, but certainly everyone would be satisfied with such an outcome.

And after this statement, the interim UFC heavyweight champion announced himself. "You don't have to ask me twice. I agree," Tom Aspinall tweeted. The UFC is reportedly coming to Manchester in July, although the official confirmation has not yet arrived, no one would be angry if Blaydes and Aspinall were leading this event.