Ninth-ranked heavyweight Curtis Blaydes traveled to Perth, Australia to take on No. 5 ranked Mark Hunt in the UFC 221 co-main event on Saturday hoping to move up the rankings. He successfully nullified Hunt's dangerous striking game with takedowns to earn a unanimous decision win over “The Super Samoan.”
Blaydes looked to establish his jab early and take advantage of a significant reach advantage but Hunt stayed just out of reach of Blaydes' punches. After quickly getting back to his feet after being taken down, Hunt landed a right hand that wobbled Blaydes. He followed with another and knocked the Chicago native down. Blaydes immediately got back to his feet and decided to get the fight to the ground.
After feeling Hunt's notorious punching power, Blaydes decided to use his wrestling. He took Hunt down ten times throughout the three-round fight. Hunt was able to get up several times but wasn't able to escape the clinches of 26-year-old Blaydes.
After fifteen minutes of fighting the judges scored the fight for Blaydes by unanimous decision with only one judge scoring Hunt winning a round. With the win Blaydes will likely debut in the top five of the heavyweight rankings. He extended his winning streak to three consecutive fights.
“He came out like I thought he would, swinging for the fences trying to knock me out. He caught me early. I learned my lesson and went back to my takedowns, ground and pound,” said Blaydes following the win. “I was hurt for about 20 seconds. I recovered when I got the next takedown.”
Blaydes doesn't care who he faces in his next outing but wants to be part of the UFC 225 fight card on June 7 in Chicago. He wants to feel what it's like to have a hometown crowd cheering him on like Hunt had on Saturday.
“Don't care (who I face) but I want to be in Chicago. Let's go. Put me in Chicago. I want this feeling. I want this,” he said.