The UFC’s Heavyweight Division is at a crossroads with a mixture of legends and up and comers. The youth movement in the Heavyweight Division is in full swing and at the forefront is the number four ranked Curtis “Razor” Blaydes.
After a dominant victory in New Zealand over veteran and legend of the sport Mark Hunt, Blaydes now has another legend in front of him. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem. The fight will take place at UFC 225 on June 9th at the United Center in Chicago, IL.
We had the opportunity to speak with Blaydes leading up to the fight and talk about everything from his return to his hometown, his thoughts on the current status of the Heavyweight division, his new contract, and if he allowing himself to think about the UFC Heavyweight title.
You can listen to and read the interview below. Stick with MMANews.com for the latest on UFC 225, Curtis Blaydes, and all the happenings in the UFC Heavyweight Division.
Tim Thompson from MMANews.com here with the UFC’s number four ranked Heavyweight in the world, Curtis “Razor” Blaydes. Curtis, how you doin?
I’m fine sir, how are you?
Doing very well thank you. We really appreciate the time. We know that you are starting camp here for your big homecoming fight at the United Center against Alistair Overeem, but we will get to that more in a second. I want to go back here a little bit if I could. A couple months ago. I want to get your mindset. You get the fight in New Zealand, against a legend in Mark Hunt. A lot on the line. You were talking beforehand about contract issues. That was the second to last fight on your contract. There were a lot of questions there on what they were going to offer you. What was your mindset going into that fight? Were you thinking you really needed an impressive performance?
No. My mindset is always the same. Win the fight by any means necessary.
You get Hunt. He was the hometown favorite. What was it like? That whole experience. Fighting someone like Mark Hunt in that type of environment.
It was very different being in another country. Being the enemy. Once you go into the cage. It’s all the same. It doesn’t matter if the fans are on your side or against you. Once you are in the cage they can’t help you.
We hear about a lot of fighters struggling to find the normal things that they use during fight week. Whether it be things to cut weight, things to rehydrate, or types of food in the area. Did you experience anything like that or did you have everything well prepared?
I don’t have those issues. I don’t cut weight. I walk around 5lbs over, so I eat whatever I want to eat. I don’t have to rehydrate because I am not cutting weight.
Fighting Mark Hunt, everyone wondered if you could handle his power. You showed that you could. You took a big shot there in the first round and then dominated the rest of that fight. Was his power everything it was cracked up to be or is it something that you felt before?
No. I don’t think there is anyone out there like Mark Hunt. If anyone wants to say they are, they are being disrespectful. Mark Hunt’s a legend. Not many fighters in the world have his one hit KO power.
Does it give you confidence now going forward? You have been in the cage with Francis Ngannou who has been touted as the hardest puncher in the UFC and Mark Hunt who is a legend for how hard he can hit. You have been in there with both and have taken big shots from both. Does that give you confidence going forward that you are going to be one of the best in the world?
I already had that confidence. I didn’t need to gain it from a fight. I knew that going into it, but it’s always good to come out with a W. That’s an easy way to build confidence. You can’t not be confident going into that cage because if you are you are definitely going to lose.
You are getting the opportunity now to fight Alistair Overeem. Overeem is ranked number 2 in the UFC Heavyweight rankings. What are your thoughts on that fight with Alistair as an opponent. Another legend, another guy who hits extremely hard. Obviously, he is coming off of a loss, but another big name for you.
I mean like you said it’s another legend. It’s an opportunity to put my name in the books as one of the guys to beat a legend like Alistair Overeem. I’m just looking forward to getting in their and testing myself with someone with his background.
I mentioned before that there were some contract, I don’t want to call them issues because it never really came to that. You did what you had to do, and you got a new deal for this. Do you know how many fights you signed on for with the UFC for the new deal?
Yes. It’s eight fights.
Eight fights, does that help give you piece of mind even more, just to know. Obviously you are a top 5 Heavyweight in the world regardless, but now knowing the UFC is going to be your home for an extended period of time.
It feels good, but I wasn’t really worried. As long as you’re winning fights they have to retain you. That was my main focus, keep winning. Now they will reward ya.
Are you just now outside of training camp? Are you in the beginning training camp? The fight is on June 9th at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
I have been in camp for over a month now.
For over a month now, ok. Where are you spending most of your time?
I live in Denver. I have been here for almost 2 years. I do all my training here.
With Team Elevation?
Yes, with Team Elevation.
What do you expect with someone in Alistair Overeem who is coming off the type of KO loss he is coming off of. Do you look at your opponents most recent fights and what they have done, or do you try and focus on yourself?
I mean there is always a little bit of game planning but too much game planning takes you out of your own game. I focus on what I do best. My game plan remains the same. Use my boxing to get inside and get them on the ground and get on top of them. That’s my game plan for Fabricio, Alistair, Ngannou, Stipe, anybody. I’m a wrestler. I am always going to use my wrestling.
I want to get your take on the current status of the Heavyweight division. You are different than everyone else in the division. With your skill set and the way you go about your business. You keep a quiet confidence and do work. A lot of the other people try and build themselves up in different ways and that’s fine. Do you think your quiet and calm demeanor, your continuing to get these fights, is going to help you out in the long run?
Yea. I don’t plan on changing who I am. I have never been a braggadocios, look at me, type of guy. I come from a wrestling background. That’s not tolerated. No one does that. Everyone is the same in that wrestling room. I bring that same mindset into the gym and into the cage. This is Heavyweight. Anyone can lose. Alistair is a big man. If he hits me, it’s a possibility I can lose. Just like the last fight. There is no need for me to go out there and disrespect him before I go fight him.
With a win over Alistair Overeem the only two Heavyweight right now who are knocking on the title shot door step are you and Alexander Volkov. Has it crossed your mind yet that if you win this fight, and things could move rather quickly. Early 2019 or end of 2018 even. You could be fighting for the title. Have you let that thought cross your mind?
Yea. I mean I’m human. It’s crossed my mind, but it’s not my focus right now. I’m focused on Alistair.
What are your thoughts on Daniel Cormier challenging Stipe Miocic for the Heavyweight title?
It’s a cool matchup. DC is undefeated at Heavyweight, so he knows what he is doing with big boys. I think Stipe, if he wins this, he solidifies himself as the greatest Heavyweight in Mixed Martial Arts History. I am definitely picking Stipe. I think he is going to win because his boxing is very technical and very crisp. He has really good take down defense and he can also get his own takedown when he wants to.
Is there any type of fan in you that wants to see Cormier? Obviously Cormier has he wrestling background, same as yourself. Do you find yourself cheering for guys like that? You have put it to the side and went with Stipe, but do you find yourself cheering for guys like Daniel Cormier or no?
No. I cheer for guys who I like to watch. It doesn’t matter if you are a wrestler or not. There are other wrestlers that I don’t like. Those are wrestlers who, I like a different type of wrestling. Not the old school. Pummeling and bear hugging each other. I like explosivity and that’s not really DC’s game. He is a very good wrestler, but he is not the most explosive wrestler. Doesn’t really make me a fan of his style, but I respect his game. At his height and with his arm reach. Doing what he does against these tall giants is amazing.
Well you talk about different types of wrestling games. I always find that to be an interesting conversation. There are different wrestlers. From the stale type to the more aggressive style going for takedowns and looking for back points consistently. There are different styles as you mentioned. Do you think some of the wrestlers who come in from highly touted backgrounds are a little over rather potentially because they aren’t from that aggressive style?
I mean yea. It varies, it depends on a lot but yea that’s a good way to put it. Some guys come in from high pedigrees from wrestling and it’s well deserved, but their style of wrestling isn’t really conducive for MMA application. Your right, some guys aren’t the type of wrestler you are expecting to see in the cage.
It’s funny I think across MMA fans and media for that matter, think that every wrestler is friends with every wrestler just because of that culture. Sometimes that does hold up but there are a lot of differences throughout the sport. Curtis, last thing I want to ask you with you in mid camp here. You have worked with the CBD oil in terms of recovery. I want your thoughts on that and it’s place in the sport of MMA and how it’s going to help things going forward.
I think it’s great that they legalized it. I use it every day after my trainings. It definitely helps with my recovery and pain management which is a big thing in MMA. Everyone is always hurt every day, if you aren’t hurting u aren’t having a good practice. I think the use of CBD is going to prolong careers and keep the top guys at the top of their game for longer. Which is better for the sport and better for the fans.
I wanted to ask you because I don’t know. You have the one no contest on your record. Is that from the use of CBD before it’s legalization?
No, that’s from the use of THC.
Ok. I wasn’t sure on that. Curtis we really appreciate the time, last question I have for you. Coming back home to Chicago. Fighting at the United Center. I have read a few articles, you were in the Chicago Tribune. Being a Chicago kid that has to feel pretty great being in an outlet like that for your homecoming. You had a quote in there that stated, ‘It didn’t work out for Mark Hunt in his last fight, did it?’ What are your overall thoughts of fighting in Chicago? Are you going to have a lot of friends and family there? What’s that going to be like for you?
Everyone is going to be there. Everyone wants to watch and that’s going to be great. It’s always good to have support right there, but like I mentioned earlier. It doesn’t matter. They can’t win the fight for me. That can’t punch Alistair, they can’t take Alistair down, I have to do all that on my own. It doesn’t matter if we were fighting in Vegas, Chicago, New York, or even Amsterdam. Once you get in the cage the fans are kind of irrelevant in a way.
Are you going to try and go about it the same way you do with all of your other fights? Where you are traveling, you are staying in a hotel, you are kind of secluded with your team? Are you going to handle it the same way or is it going to be a little different of a set up because it’s a homecoming?
Nope. I will be doing the same schedule. Same everything, I always do. It’s not broken I don’t plan on trying to fix it.
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