Sink or Swim at UFC 266: Curtis Blaydes Needs to Win

Curtis Blaydes

Getty Curtis Blaydes prepares for his fight against Francis Ngannou at Cadillac Arena on November 24, 2018 in Beijing, China.

The pay-per-view main card of UFC 266 features a battle between two top-ranked heavyweights as No. 4 Curtis Blaydes takes on No. 6 Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

And on September 25, 2021, it will be a sink-or-swim moment for Blaydes.

“Razor” has a professional MMA record of 14-3 with one no contest, which includes 10 wins by KO/TKO. He holds victories over several big names, including former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem and Alexander Volkov. However, Razor has never been able to establish himself as the top contender of the division as he has stumbled each time at the top of the mountain.

UFC 266 takes place September 25 at 10 p.m. Eastern time at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.


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Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik

GettyUFC 266 on September 25 features a huge heavyweight fight between Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

Two of Blayders’ three defeats came when he was riding impressive win streaks in the UFC and was poised to possibly be the next title contender. And with UFC 266 being a bounce-back fight for Razor, it’s imperative for the 30-year-old to get his hand raised should he want to continue on the track toward UFC gold.


Blaydes Lost His UFC Debut to Francis Ngannou & Was Defeated By Ngannou Again After Going on a Run

Curtis Blaydes

GettyCurtis Blaydes punches Alexander Volkov in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 20, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Blaydes signed with the UFC in 2016 as a 5-0 professional and was immediately given future UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou in his debut. They fought during UFC Fight Night: Rothwell vs. dos Santos and Blaydes was finished in the second round via TKO.

Not to be deterred, Blaydes returned to the Octagon a few months later and started a streak that would see him go 5-0 with one no contest. He defeated Cody East in October 2016 by second-round TKO and then followed up the win by beating Adam Milstead in February 2017 with another second-round TKO.

But Razor tested positive for marijuana after the fight and his victory was overturned to a no contest. In July 2017, Blaydes took a unanimous decision over Daniel Omielanczuk and four months later, he defeated Aleksei Oleinik by second-round doctor’s stoppage. In his most high-profile win up to this point in time, Razor defeated Mark Hunt by unanimous decision in February 2018.

Blaydes would then take Performance of the Night honors by pummeling Alistair Overeem with elbows in the third round of their June 2018 clash. With the momentum of this six-fight streak and on the verge of a title fight, Blaydes once again met Ngannou inside the Octagon.

Unfortunately for Razor, the fight went shorter than their first. “The Predator” took him out in the first round by TKO in November 2018.

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Razor Started Another Solid Streak & Went 4-0 Before Dramatic Loss to Derrick Lewis

After his second loss to Ngannou, Blaydes went back to the drawing board. Four months later, Razor inserted himself back into the win column by earning a unanimous decision victory over Justin Willis in March 2019.

Blaydes would then taste victory in his next three bouts. He won two back-to-back fights by second-round TKO, toppling Shamil Abdurakhimov in September 2019 and Junior dos Santos in January 2020.

Then, Razor went five rounds for the first time in his professional career, taking a unanimous decision nod over Alexander Volkov in June 2020.

Once again, Blaydes had put himself in a spot to earn a championship fight. In February 2021, Razor was standing across the Octagon from Derrick Lewis but once again, lost the big fight. He was brutally knocked out by “The Black Beast” in the second round of their main event contest at UFC Vegas 19.

If Blaydes had defeated Lewis, there is a good chance he would have received an interim heavyweight title fight later in the year as The Black Beast fought Ciryl Gane for it at UFC 265 in August.


Blaydes Isn’t Concerned With Who Is Next After Rozenstruik & Says There Are ‘Alternate Dimensions’ With Different Opponents

Razor’s fight with Rozenstruik is his first match since losing to Lewis. And if he gets his hand raised at UFC 266, Blaydes knows there are a lot of possible options out there for him.

He recently spoke with SportsKeeda.com ahead of his scrap with Rozenstruik. Razor said that with a win, he could see himself potentially fighting for the heavyweight title against either Ngannou or Gane, depending on who wins the presumed unification fight.

Blaydes also said a fight with ex-UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic or former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is on the table as well.

“There’s alternate dimensions,’ Blaydes said via the outlet. “There’s an alternate reality where, after this, after I beat Jairzinho, I get the winner of Ngannou vs. Gane. And there’s an alternate reality where I get Stipe. There’s an alternate reality where I get Jon Jones. There’s just so many different…I just haven’t put a lot of energy into that. Who knows what happens. That’s not really up to me.”


Rozenstruik Said He Is Prepared to Deal With Blaydes’ Wrestling

Jairzinho Rozenstruik

GettyJairzinho Rozenstruik punches Ciryl Gane on February 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Bigi Boy” is known as a knockout artist, winning 11 of his 12 professional MMA bouts via KO or TKO. So when he’s locked into the cage at UFC 266 across from Blaydes, Rozenstruik knows he’ll likely be fending off the wrestling of Razor, as well as his striking.

“I’m gonna go in there and work it,” Rozenstruik said in a recent interview with MMANews.com’s James Lynch. “That’s it. I’m gonna see where Curtis wanna go. He knows I’m a striker. I know he’s gonna try to strike with me. I know he wanna wrestle me. And I’ll be prepared for all of that. I’m not scared to wrestle. And yeah, for me, it’s awesome. And it’s gonna be with the fans again, and the whole picture is there, and the hype is there. So I’m really excited. Can’t wait.”

Rozenstruik hopes that by defeating Blaydes, he’ll put himself near a top contender spot. And according to the heavyweight, he wants to fight one more time before the year is up to get himself to a championship opportunity.

“Correct. I wanna win this fight (and) get back into title contention in line,” Bigi Boy said. “And yeah, if I need one more fight for the title, it’s fair for me. And I really want one more fight for this year after this one, so I’m gonna work on that.”

READ NEXT: Do-or-Die for Robbie Lawler: ‘Ruthless’ Needs a Win at UFC 266


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