The last time Curtis Blaydes was in the Octagon, he landed a whopping 14 takedowns en route to a five-round verdict over Alexander Volkov in the UFC on ESPN 11 headliner this past June.
Considering Volkov’s most recent performance against Alistair Overeem, the victory looks even more impressive in hindsight. However, UFC president Dana White didn't seem to appreciate the means by which Blaydes had his hand raised, especially since the heavyweight contender fatigued somewhat down the stretch.
“He won. He talked a lot of s—t coming in this week,” White said at the post-fight press conference. “I don’t think you can talk the s—t that he talked this week and come in and perform like that. Talking about ragdolling people and not getting paid. Yada yada. He should be getting a title shot. He gassed out at the end of the third round, made it to the fifth and won the fight. Yeah, he won.”
As he heads into Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 185 main event against Derrick Lewis, Blaydes is riding the momentum of a four-bout winning streak. And with the exception of two KO defeats at the hands of Francis Ngannou, he’s been largely dominant in most of his Octagon appearances. Still, he’s a little bit baffled about the criticism that came from White last year.
“I beat Alexander Volkov. That’s a legit win. I don’t care how you do it,” Blaydes told ESPN. “You shouldn’t be disrespectful about how the win happened. That’s one thing I don’t understand. Why do you bash your fighters who are actually legit, who can be future champions? You can hate me. You can hate my wrestling. You cannot deny I am on the path to being a champion. Why bash me? I don’t understand that.”
Blaydes also revealed that he’s never had a personal conversation with White. Thus far, their interactions have been limited at most.
“I have never actually spoken to Dana. Not in person …I don’t think he follows my [Instagram]. I know he doesn’t have my phone number,” Blaydes said. “I was surprised he even spoke up after the fight. I didn’t even think he knew who the hell I was at that point.
“Of course you want to be cool with the boss. But I also understand he likes guys who give some highlights. I’ve got to add some more highlights to my resume and maybe we’ll have a drink or two one day.”
To be fair, Blaydes owns finishes over the likes of Junior dos Santos, Shamil Abdurakhimov, Overeem and Alexey Oleynik during his promotional tenure. That doesn’t mean he’ll turn in to a brawler against Lewis on Saturday simply to curry favor with promotional brass. There’s too much at stake to stray from a winning formula.
"If I win the exact same way, I would be fine, because guess what, it's another win, it's a win bonus," he said. "I don't know if a lot of people care, but I have a family. I'm trying to feed my family. I don't care if you want me to risk my win bonus, which is $100,000, to stand and bang with a guy who has terrible wrestling. I'm just not going to do it. Unless you defend every takedown attempt, I'm not going to stop trying to wrestle you. You have to deter me, and I don't think Derrick is going to deter me.”