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Curtis Blaydes is a problem at heavyweight. 

The standout wrestler, 18-4 (with one no contest) in his mixed martial arts career, has long been one of the division’s ‘nearly men’. He has, on more than one occasion now, positioned himself for a world title shot in the UFC — only to fall at the final hurdle, and usually at the hands of some of the division’s most powerful strikers such as Francis Ngannou, Derrick Lewis and Sergei Pavlovich.

But later this month in Manchester at UFC 304, Blaydes will get an opportunity to claim interim gold when he takes on Tom Aspinall in what is to be a rematch of their brief, 15-second fight in Manchester in 2022 in which Aspinall sustained a serious knee injury in the opening seconds.

American fighter Blaydes will come into the fight on the back of handing Brazil’s Jailton Almeida his first loss after a 15-fight unbeaten streak — and if he can upset the odds in a couple of weeks’ time against Aspinall, he can throw a spanner in the works of a division currently being held up by the UFC’s dogged persistence in having Jon Jones defend his title against Stipe Miocic possibly in November.

Check out Blaydes second round finish of Almeida below.