Curtis Blaydes re-established his credentials at the summit of the UFC heavyweight division with a second-round stoppage win against Chris Daukaus last Saturday night — but as one of several fighters angling for a world title shot, Blaydes says that the man who holds the strap should move to pastures new.
Francis Ngannou’s immediate future remains uncertain. The Cameroonian fighter scored the first defence of his title earlier this year when he outpointed Ciryl Gane across five rounds but injuries to his knee sustained in training ahead of the fight has required surgery, which will keep him from the cage for the best part of a year.
The UFC will almost certainly create an interim title during Ngannou’s absence but with the champ continuing to talk about chasing boxing paydays, Blaydes says that Ngannou must make the most of his earning potential while it is available. It should also be noted that Blaydes has felt Ngannou’s power first hand, and was knocked out by him inside the first minute of their fight in Beijing in late 2018.
“If I’m him, I’m just going to box,” Blaydes told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour via MMA Fighting. “They make a lot of money, and he would make a lot of money against Joshua or Tyson or Deontay. He would be rich. So if I’m him, I would let my knee heal up and get ready to box.”
Ngannou has long dreamed of being a professional boxer, beginning his training in the stand-up arts before he had even heard of mixed martial arts as a concept — and as far as Blaydes is concerned, ‘The Predator’ could succeed at the highest level of the sport.
“Based off the top boxers at heavyweight division I’ve watched, I think he does well,” Blaydes stated. “I think he has the reach. We know has the explosion and the athleticism. With those gloves, he may not have the same impact, but I think he can beat any of those guys.