Curtis Blaydes vs. Justin Willis
|Date & Time||Saturday March 23, 2019, 11:30 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Blaydes -293 / Willis +257 -- Over/Under:
Curtis Blaydes and Justin Willis fight Saturday during UFC on ESPN+ 6 at the Bridgestone Arena.
Curtis Blaydes enters this fight with a 10-2 record and has won 80 percent of his fights by knockout. Blaydes has won four of his last five fights and is coming off a November loss to Francis Ngannou. Blaydes is averaging 4.17 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 50 percent. Blaydes is averaging 6.75 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 55 percent. Blaydes has now lost twice to one of the scariest fighters on the planet, but outside of that, he’s had his way throughout his professional career. Blaydes is a rare heavyweight in that he’s highly aggressive with his takedowns and has extreme success with his attempts, often coming in with a tackle form and picking up and throwing around some of the biggest guys in the sport. Once on the canvas, Blaydes has a nasty ground and pound, and it’s where he’s landed 46 percent of his strikes. Blaydes can obviously hold his own on the canvas and has one-punch knockout potential, but he’s most effective on the ground and usually follows up his opponents strike attempt with a takedown rather than a counterstrike. With a background in wrestling, Blaydes is one of the more balanced fighters in this division. This will be Blaydes’ first career fight in Tennessee.
Justin Willis enters this fight with a 8-1 record and has won 50 percent of his fights by knockout. Willis has won each of his last eight fights and is coming off a December win over Mark Hunt. Willis is averaging 4.4 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 60 percent. Willis is averaging 1.26 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 66 percent. Willis hasn’t lost since his pro debut against Henry Solis back in 2012, and he’s coming off two respectable victories that have kind of put him on the map. Willis is an accurate striker who tagged Hunt 118 times in his decision victory, and he has decent defense with his standup, moving his head well and making it tough for his opponent to line up a clean shot. Through four UFC fights, Willis is landing 79 percent of his strikes standing up, and he has produced four takedowns, so he’s not completely a one-trick pony. A creative southpaw with a football background, Willis is a tough fighter who can take a punch and seems to be getting better as his competition improves. This will be Willis’ first career fight in Tennessee.
While Willis is a fun guy and good for the sport, he’s going to lose this fight quite badly. Eight straight wins is cool and all, but Willis hasn’t been the octagon with somebody of Blaydes skill set, and he’s going to have to show what he’s capable of in the ground department, something he hasn’t shown much of up to this point. Willis is going to have a long day when being dragged into the deep end of the swimming pool. You can also make a case for Blaydes having the edge in the standup as well, as he’s the longer, faster fighter, and he’s improved his standup overall his last few fights. Willis can be a bit slow with his hands, and while accurate, he hasn’t exactly shown much punching power to really change the fight.
This is a fight Blaydes should win by finish, and I don’t expect it to be competitive.