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UFC Vegas: Blaydes vs Lewis - Feb 20 🇺🇸


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Saturday 20th February. Blaydes vs The Beast...

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Curtis Blaydes vs Derrick Lewis

Ketlen Vieira vs Yana Kunitskaya 

Darrick Minner vs Charles Rosa 

Alexey Oleynik vs Chris Daukaus

Nassourdine Imavov vs Phil Hawes

Andrei Arlovski vs Tom Aspinall

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Jared Gordon vs Danny Chavez

Eddie Wineland vs John Castaneda

Julian Erosa vs Nate Landwehr

Shana Dobson vs Casey O’Neill

Chas Skelly vs Jamall Emmers 

Aiemann Zahabi vs Drako Rodriguez

Sergey Spivak vs Jared Vanderaa

 

Not an amazing card on paper but it’s decent. There’s a few highlights there that I’m into. I’m expecting a few of these fights to end up on other cards, to be honest. 15 fights seems a lot. Especially when some of the other cards surrounding it don’t have that many bouts booked yet. As always, take no notice of the order here. It’s not finalised yet.

 

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Curtis Blaydes vs Derrick Lewis. The big boys top the bill. Of course, this was supposed to headline the Fight Night back in late November but it got binned just 24 hours before when Blaydes tested positive for COVID. We’ve talked about this fight a few times and I don’t think it’s one anybody’s too jazzed about. Mostly because the likely outcome is Lewis just getting dominated. Blaydes isn’t the most exciting or engaging fighter but I do think some of the criticism he gets is a tad harsh. He’s 14-2-0-1 now, his only losses have been the two against Francis Ngannou. Aside from that he’s beat Alistair Overeem, Junior Dos Santos, Mark Hunt, Alexander Volkov and Alexey Oleynik. He’s also got that wrestling base which not many of the current Heavyweights have, which makes him a bad matchup for almost everyone. In theory, Blaydes has a perfect opportunity right now, as a suffocating wrestler in a division that’s mostly full of strikers. But Stipe’s the man now and he can wrestle a bit himself. That’s never going to be straight forward. And Ngannou’s already 2-0 over him. Blaydes is kind of the odd man out at the moment. Doesn’t help that he’s gained a bit of a reputation as a boring fighter either. I don’t necessarily agree with that, he’s not typically a boring fighter. But snoozers like his last fight against Volkov don’t help his cause and it just gives Dana an excuse to slag him off and downplay him.

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It wasn’t the best. Hopefully this one’s more entertaining. You can usually rely on Lewis to make things exciting. He’s on a solid run at the moment and coming off 3 wins. I’ve said it before but I think Lewis actually gets underrated a little bit sometimes and dismissed as just an amusing novelty act. But he’s beaten enough good fighters over the years to prove he’s more than just the guy who said “MY BALLS WAS HOT” to Joe Rogan that time. With all that said though, I think this is a terrible matchup for him. Unless Blaydes inexplicably abandons his bread and butter, I just can’t see Lewis coping with those takedowns. His usual method of ‘just standing up’ whenever he gets taken down might work against lesser grapplers but it’s not going to cut it here. I’d love to see him make a real fight of it but I think Blaydes is all wrong for him.

 

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Ketlen Vieira vs Yana Kunitskaya. It’s alright but I’m not giddy about it or anything. I like Vieira. Still think she could go on to do good things. She’s 29 years old, holds black-belts in BJJ and Judo, and she’s 11-1 with wins over Sara McMann and Cat Zingano. Her only blip was the KO loss against Irene Aldana but that came after a nearly 2 year layoff and knee surgery. She rebounded with a win over Sijara Eubanks in her last fight and hopefully she can build off that here. I don’t see her giving Amanda Nunes much bother so, ultimately, the ceiling if you’re a woman competing at 135/145 is fairly low. But I think she’s got more potential than most at Bantamweight. Her and Aspen Ladd were my picks to break through at 135 and both got sidelined with bad knee injuries. I cursed them. Kunitskaya doesn’t do much for me. She’s 13-5-0-1 with a few OK wins but I mostly remember her for getting fed to Cyborg on a PPV a couple of years back. She’s not the worst fighter but she’s nothing special, Vieira should really be beating her.

 

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Darrick Minner vs Charles Rosa. OK fight. I haven’t seen a lot of Minner but he’s a solid little submission artist. He tapped TJ Laramie on the Covington vs Woodley card in September in under a minute. Also, of his 25 career wins, 22 of them came via sub. So yeah, he knows what’s what on the mat. Rosa is prelim 4 life but he’s usually fairly entertaining to watch. Could be a tricky one style-wise for him though. He’s struggled with strong grapplers before, wasn’t too long ago Bryce Mitchell absolutely tied him up in knots. If he can’t keep this one standing, it’s probably not ending well for him.

 

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Alexey Oleynik vs Chris Daukaus then. Not sure what happens here. I’ve said before I’ve become a bit of an Oleynik fan. It took a while but he’s grown on me over the years. You watch him and he looks so lumbering and uncoordinated but I get a kick out of watching him just plod forward and drag sods to the mat and strangle them. Usually with that bloody Ezekiel choke which shouldn’t really work as often as it does but he just keeps pulling them off time and time again.

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Love it. He’s 43 years old now. There can’t be too many more fights left for the big lump surely. This will be his 75th MMA fight. Yes, seventy five! And he’s gone 59-14-1 with a whopping 46 submissions. Crazy. Even more mental is that 14 of them were Ezekiels. How? He’s up against a younger, fresher fighter here. Daukaus is 31 and has a record of 10-3 with 9 knockouts. A bunch of them inside a round. In his last fight in October, he sparked Rodrigo Nascimento (who I thought looked like one to watch going in) in just 45 seconds. It’s the classic grappler vs striker basically. But the gulf in experience is massive here too. Should be a fun one.

 

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Nassourdine Imavov vs Phil Hawes. This one was set to go down on the Holloway vs Kattar card but got scrapped on the day of the fight due to a medical issue (not COVID) on Hawes’ side. It’s back on. I’m not too up on either guy but it sounds alright. Imavov made his UFC debut on the forgettable Holm vs Aldana card in October and beat Jordan Williams on points. I think I saw that fight but I remember sod all of it. Hawes’ debut was more memorable but very brief. He took out Jacob Malkoun in just 18 seconds at UFC 254. So not a lot to go on really but he looked impressive to say the least. Both have 9-2 records.

 

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Andrei Arlovski vs Tom Aspinall is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** this time. Past vs future. Old school vs new breed and all that shite. I’m not always a fan of these legend vs prospect fights but there’s something about this matchup I really like.

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Andrei Arlovski in better days there. That was a really memorable period for me. When I was first getting into MMA, Arlovski was the man (in the UFC at least) and knocking fools out left and right. And, well, look at him. You didn’t forget him in a hurry. He’ll be 42 years old by the time this card rolls around. I’d say retirement must be looming but it feels like we’ve been saying that every single time he’s fought since that horrid slump he had around 2009. This’ll be his 52nd official MMA fight. He made his MMA debut in April 1999. That same month, Aspinall celebrated his 6th birthday! But while he’s certainly not a threat to the title these days, Arlovski’s actually not aged half as bad as a lot of the big names from his era. Yeah, he loses when he comes up against a Rozenstruik or Ngannou. But he can still go at a certain level. He’s lost a couple of steps but he’s not shot. He comes into this fight off back-to-back wins over Tanner Boser and Philipe Lins. You still have to have something about you to beat the ‘Pitbull’. It’s not a gimme like BJ Penn or Rashad Evans were at the end.

So this should give us an idea what Aspinall’s about. He’s looked good so far. 9-2, all finishes, 5 fight win streak etc. But his best wins are that Mr T lookalike in his last fight and Jake fucking Collier. I mean, I’m not knocking Aspinall. The potential is clearly there and he’s dealt with these ham and eggers as any prospect worth his salt would do. But it’s still a jump going from that to Andrei Arlovski. Even the 2021 version of Arlovski is vastly superior to the level Aspinall’s been operating on to date. Interesting one. These days you don’t just blow through Arlovski unless you’ve got something. So if Aspinall blasts him like he’s been winning these squash matches, we might actually have another real Heavyweight prospect on our hands.

 

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Jared Gordon vs Danny Chavez. Not too fussed. Gordon’s a New Yorker, BJJ brown-belt under John Danaher, 16-4 in MMA. Can’t say anything really stands out in the memory about him other than him being one of the victims of Charles Oliveira’s recent streak. He did beat Chris Fishgold in his last fight in July but I don’t have any recollection of it. And Chavez I’m even more fuzzy on. He’s 11-3 and beat TJ Brown in his UFC debut in August apparently. Not ringing any bells.

 

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Eddie Wineland vs John Castaneda. Last time we saw Wineland he was getting flattened by Sean O’Malley. I usually say it’ll be interesting to see how a fighter rebounds coming off a loss like that but Wineland seems pretty set in his ways at this point. He’s 36 years old now and this will be his 40th fight. Nothing’s going to change now. Which is a bit worrying if he’s just going to go out and trade after suffering such a devastating knockout. Especially in light of that Spencer Fisher story recently. Castaneda is 29 with a 17-5 record. He made his UFC debut in July and lost a decision to Nathaniel Wood which I don’t remember seeing.

 

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Julian Erosa vs Nate Landwehr. Could be a bit of a sleeper actually. Erosa’s a guy I’ve not taken much notice of before. I mostly remembered him for getting headkicked by Julio Arce a while back. But he’s coming off a couple of wins now and he had a corker last time out with Sean Woodson which he won by D’Arce choke after a really fun back and forth battle. Landwehr makes this fight though. He’s quickly caught my attention as required viewing on any card he’s on. He’s a former M-1 Featherweight champion, 14-3 record, got stopped by Herbert Burns in his UFC debut but bounced back impressively with a win over Darren Elkins in his last fight. He’s also the blackest white man since Dusty Rhodes.

Looking forward to this. Landwehr is a bit of a nutcase and seems well up for a blood and guts war. And judging Erosa’s fight with Woodson, he’s the same way. Should be good.

 

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Shana Dobson vs Casey O’Neill. Yeah, I don’t have especially high expectations for this but whatever. Maybe it’ll be a pleasant surprise. Dobson did surprise me in her last fight actually. She stopped Mariya Agapova, who I’d been quite impressed with previously. Really unexpected result. She improved to 4-4 with that win. Yes, improved to a 50-50 record. She was coming off 3 straight losses before that. I know nothing of O’Neill so I’m doing a Mike Goldberg and Sherdogging her. She’s 23, Australian and undefeated at 5-0. Surely Dobson doesn’t derail another prospect?

 

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Chas Skelly vs Jamall Emmers. Could be decent. I usually enjoy Skelly’s fights. He kind of reminds me of a discount Chael Sonnen in how he fights. He’s kind of a one note style grappler but he’s so relentless and willing to walk through fire to force his gameplan that he wins fights off sheer persistence half the time. Tough sod as well. He hasn’t fought since September 2019 now when he beat Jordan Griffin in a real corker. One of the better grappling heavy fights in recent memory. Haven’t seen much Emmers but he’s 18-5, has won 5 of his last 6 and the loss was a split decision against Giga Chikadze. He also holds a 2017 win over Cory Sandhagen. He might be one to keep an eye on.

 

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Aiemann Zahabi vs Drako Rodriguez. Not sure what to expect. Zahabi is the younger brother of MMA coach to the stars Firas. He came into the UFC undefeated and with a bit of hype because of that but it hasn’t really happened for him. He suffered his first loss via highlight reel spinning elbow KO back in 2017 and it’s been very stop/start since. Layoffs and losses have been his lot. He’s 33 now, the prospect tag is gone really but hopefully he can get back on track even if it’s just being able to be more active. Don’t know Rodriguez. He’s 7-1 with 6 finishes and, you guessed it, he’s from DWCS.

 

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Sergey Spivak vs Jared Vanderaa. More Heavyweight goodness/shite. To be fair, of all the useless big lummoxes in the HW division, Spivak doesn’t look too bad. He’s 11-2 with 10 finishes. His only losses have been against Marcin Tybura on points and he got caught by Walt Harris in under a minute. Other than that he’s looked alright, albeit against mostly unknown or subpar opposition. He completely schooled Tai Tuivasa when they fought and, at 26 years old he’s a baby for Heavyweight. There’s scope for improvement there. Never heard of this Vanderaa chap. Looking him up he’s 28, fights out of Team Quest (that’s still a thing?) and he’s 11-4 with 10 finishes. He was on DWCS recently and beat the hilariously named Harry Hunsucker by first round TKO. As HW fights go, we’ve had a lot worse.

 

That’s your lot. 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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  • wandshogun09 changed the title to UFC Vegas: Blaydes vs Lewis - Feb 20 🇺🇸
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Fucking Black Beast!!! That was beautiful, he should be the man to welcome Jon Jones to the Heavyweight division. 

The Beast surprised me there. Like Silky, as happy as I was to see Lewis get the win, I felt sorry for Blaydes. The little profile pieces they did on Blaydes this week were good and I warmed to him a

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So this show is up next, it's not the most stacked card but then again the PPV that just happened wasn't getting much love on paper but it certainly exceeded all expectations so I will watch with hope.

The main problem is Curtis Blaydes headlining, I just know he's going to stink up the joint, he will gas Lewis out and get a ground and pound TKO in round 4 or 5. Where he goes after the win I have no idea, will he try and sit out and wait for a title shot? I don't think he has the pull for that so I think he's destined to keep fighting top 5 guys until the HW trio of Stipe, Jones and Ngannu sorts it self out.

For Blaydes to get a title shot I think he needs Stipe to beat both Francis and Jones anything else and I think the UFC keep making title fights between that trio with out Curtis in the mix. I will go into my theory another time.

Arlovski vs Aspinal will be fun, it's always a pleasure to watch the Pitbull fight and our countryman is really on a tear right now so it should be fun. I think I'll be cheering on the vet, I always like to see the old guard win vs the new breed.

I'm exciting to see Drako Rodriguez fight, he was a highlight on DWCS, he seemed really genuine and a nice guy too....plus he's a pro wrestling fan so we got to route for him.

 

Drakker Klose vs Luis Pena should be ok, I kind of like Pena, there's something about him, I think it's cause he stands out with that lanky skinny frame of his and he always seems game and willing to throw down, he's not the best but he is fun. Drakker is most known for being involved in one of the most famous UFC meme's going around (GIF of it below). Let's hope for similar fire works this time.

Joe Rogan Omg GIF by UFC

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Andrei Arlovski made his pro MMA debut at a time when the UFC were marketing Bas Rutten as its premier performer. 

Oleynik made his pro MMA debut at a time when Tank Abbott, Mark Coleman, Ken Shamrock and Don Frye were the UFC's biggest stars.

Crazy. 

Edited by jimufctna24
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That is brilliant. I was grinning through out watching that.

I was listening to Blaydes today on the Helwani show and I have to say...... I warmed to him a bit as a person, he has no bitterness towards Jones getting a shot over him and he says if he beats Lewis he will probably need to fight again and wait his turn as Jones deserves the shot. He also said Izzy deserves the shot at Light heavyweight too.

I still want big Del to win but it was a refreshing change not hearing a fighter moan about getting overlooked.

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LOL he missed the Lightweight limit for a Featherweight fight. Unbelievable. The worst weight miss ever though, and it wasn’t in the UFC, was that twatty wrestling coach on the JDS vs Lesnar TUF. He fought in another promotion not that long after TUF and missed weight by 30lbs or something.

Edit - Lew Polley! That’s him. And it was a WSOF show. Came in at 237 for a fight at 205. So 32lbs over! 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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13 hours ago, Egg Shen said:

surely that's a record 

 

Just look at that man on the scale. Looks like he drank a gallon of water right before weigh in. Not looking in the slightest bit depleted. I'm glad they pulled the fight rather than trying to make it some type of catch-weight. My guess is Alves won't be getting another booking anytime soon. 

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The boring tag may be a tad unwarranted. Blaydes finishes most of his fights and does damage. I think it's case of him having the skillset to make fights boring if he chooses too. He needs a finish tonight though.

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