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Junior Dos Santos vs Curtis Blaydes on ESPN+

Everything is against Curtis Blaydes going into this fight against Dos Santos. Among the many variables, Curtis is young. Most people see youth as an advantage in athletic competition, but this is the heavyweight division. The rules do not apply to fighters in this division the way they do in others. The champion, Stipe is over 35 years old. The champion before him was about 40 years old. Fabricio Werdum was champion around 40 years old, and many heavyweights across promotions have had career resurgences deep into their 30’s.  

A post shared by Curtis Blaydes (@razorblaydes265) on Oct 11, 2019 at 3:13pm PDT

The minimum age of championship level contenders in the heavyweight division seems to be 30 years old and it is unclear why. Look at the heavyweight rankings. Blaydes is the only fighter in the top ten that is in his 20’s. He is coming off two wins, his wrestling is solid, he does have some knockouts, but none of his performances have been stellar. There is a competency to Blaydes’s striking but nothing that sets him apart from the other ranked fighters.

Of course, it is not impossible to go on a run for the title at his age, he has shown a bit of promise in the past. He however has not had the performances of fighters in the past who won or even challenged for the title when they were closer to 30. His biggest asset is his wrestling, but it will be shocking if he can take and hold JDS down even once in the entire bout.

Add this all to his lack of experience compared to JDS, and his chances to win are not great. But again, this is heavyweight we are talking about. Even fighters that seem to be this outmatched often win within five minutes off their punching power alone. Their striking does not have to be stellar, their chin can be questionable, but if they land first, the bout is all over. Even saying all this, his route to victory probably will not be very entertaining.

A post shared by Junior Cigano Dos Santos 🅾️➕ (@juniorcigano) on Jan 16, 2020 at 11:45am PST

Junior Dos Santos on the other hand is in a very common place that heavyweight champions of the past have been in. He is coming off a KO loss, yes, he is in his mid 30’s, yes, but this is not very damning in the heavyweight division. JDS is one of the quickest heavyweights around, with takedown defense that is truly elite. A win against Blaydes will still require a bit of caution, but Dos Santos can win this contest fairly easily.

Before losing his last fight to Francis Ngannou, JDS had put together three straight wins against fighters with momentum. He is primed for another title run if not a good win on Saturday night. Though he got knocked out by the champion Stipe in 2017, the first time they fought, JDS was victorious. A trilogy with Stipe Miocic could be very compelling coming off a win streak of top contenders for sure. Junior’s chin is likely still intact and there is minimal reason to question it. Getting knocked out is never a good optic, but less so in the heavyweight division. Getting KO’d by Ngannou is not a big deal as he has pretty much done that to everyone.  

Overall the main event is not very compelling, but the card is solid. Considering you are getting this on ESPN+, this is worth your attention if you need to stay in the house and save your money or take it easy at night. Arnold Allen is on the prelims with Sarah McMann who is an Olympic silver medalist. Raphael dos Anjos and Michael Chiesa will likely put on a good showing as well.  ■

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