In a fight that may well go on to decide the next challenger to the Heavyweight strap, Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis will be searching for a highlight reel finish to bolster their challenger claims.
UFC Fight Night 185: Blaydes vs Lewis Predictions & Results
Every time Curtis Blaydes enters the octagon, a host of causals scurry out of the shadows to whine about his ‘lay and pray’ wrestling which couldn’t be further than the truth. Blaydes can be criticised for his flailing gas tank in the championship rounds which forces him to employ a more passive approach. During the first three rounds, however, Blaydes is constantly raining damage from above. Having finished former top-15ers with his ground and pound (Alistair Overeem, Shamil Abdurakhimov, Aleksei Oleinik), Blaydes has also refined his boxing and out-foxed former champion, JDS.
Derrick Lewis is a man who needs no introduction. The living meme himself, Lewis is a loveable character inside and outside the octagon. While fitness and a lax attitude to training have always been major red flags throughout Lewis’ career, the simple factor of power is the greatest equaliser in the heaviest weight class. You can have phenomenal control on the ground (Marcin Tybura), a frightening clinch game (Travis Browne) or an insane locker of submissions (Aleksei Oleinik), but it only takes one punch at Heavyweight to strip away 10+ minutes of hard work.
To pretty much everyone’s surprise, the UFC has jammed in fifteen fights on this random fight night card! Fifteen! Of the fifteen, maybe four fights hold any relevance, but hey ho. A garbage Women’s Bantamweight co-main event hides potential bangers between Imavov vs Hawes, Klose vs Pena, and Erosa vs Landwehr. Yes, Cringelord Landwehr is back again to deliver his sloppy striking and awful Octagon post-fight interviews.
Curtis Blaydes (14-2) vs Derrick Lewis (24-7)
I guess now is as good a time as any to plug my fighter analysis on Curtis Blaydes, posted just before his decision over Alexander Volkov. The article goes into detail on the vast improvements in Blaydes’ striking since his UFC debut, as well as delving into his wrestling background/base. While Heavyweight will always have big boys, some of the competitors could easily trim themselves down to Light Heavyweight. Blaydes, however, is a natural Heavyweight. Muscular from head to toe, Blaydes is 265lbs of muscle that has finally started to piece together his striking with his wrestling. Alas, it is only ONE man that has been able to defeat Blaydes in the UFC and that is no other than freak power puncher, Francis N’Gannou. While some fighters have a boogeyman whose style they may never be able to overcome, in the case of Blaydes/N’Gannou, I believe their second fight was a freak outlier. Blaydes’ has continued to develop his all-round game and at thirty-years-old, is effectively in the Heavyweight prime. N’Gannou, on the other hand, has shown little improvements beyond confirming his insane power. Fighters who fall in love with their power, often meet a sad ending.
Regardless, Blaydes will be facing a different knockout artist on Saturday night. Derrick Lewis has had an awfully strange career. Once lauded as the most exciting come-from-behind KO specialist, since his stoppage losses to Daniel Cormier and JDS, Lewis can find himself fortunate to claim two ugly decisions victories and a knockout over forty-three-year-old, Aleksei Oleinik. During his last fight against Oleinik, Lewis strangely entered the guard of the famed submission specialist and almost paid a fatal price. After a scary couple of minutes in which Oleinik sneaked in a scarf hold and an Americana, Lewis survived to the end of the round through sheer heart. In classic Lewis fashion, at the start of the second, he sprinted out of the blocks into a flying knee before overwhelming the old man with strikes. While Lewis may never seem to be in total control of any fight that he features in, his power and wildly unorthodox decision making means he can never be counted out.
Two key questions circulate this fight. 1) Can Lewis stop the takedown? 2) Can Blaydes wrestle for five rounds? Go onto Youtube and type in Lewis TDD and you will find several compilations of the big man easing himself out from underneath 265lbers like they weight nothing. Taken down regularly by Daniel Cormier (4), Blagoy Ivanov (3) and Roy Nelson (7), Lewis has often been able to get straight back up after touching the canvas. Although slippery off his back, Lewis has however struggled when controlled by more competent wrestlers. Against Cormier, Lewis spent a whopping 5:10 on the ground over a fight that lasted 7:14. Blaydes can take Lewis down fairly early in the fight, which thus brings us to the question of his gas tank. For the first three rounds against Volkov, Blaydes confirmed his elite status in the division. Ragdolling his larger foe for fun, Blaydes eventually tired in the championship rounds and was lucky Volkov strangely allowed Blaydes to panic grapple. Against Lewis, letting your guard down in the closing seconds is as poor a decision as you could make. Final round stoppages against Marcin Tybura and Alexander Volkov, turnaround knockouts against Travis Browne and Shamil Abdurakhimov – Lewis holds his power.
Predicted Result: Blaydes TKO Round 2
Blaydes’ improvements to his striking over the past couple of years will allow him to dictate the opening proceedings. Forever a slow starter, Lewis will struggle with Blaydes’ ramrod jab. While it would be stupid to view the fight enveloping exactly as Cormier vs Lewis, Blaydes’ wrestling and athleticism is of a similar quality. Cormier’s utter ease in taking Lewis down and keeping him on his back went against every Youtube compilation meme-ing Lewis’ strangely effective TDD. While questions remain over Blaydes’ gas tank, an obvious danger when Lewis holds his freak power deep into fights, Blaydes should be able to apply enough pressure early that his cardio won’t become a factor.
Result: Lewis def. Blaydes // KO (punch) Round 2 1:26
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ✔️
Women’s Bantamweight (135)
Ketlen Vieira (11-1) vs Yana Kunitskaya (13-5)
Ugh, I just cannot get motivated to write about this one. #6 Women’s Bantamweight, Ketlen Vieira is an extremely talented grappler but is too often unable to drag the fight to the floor. Despite being a black belt in Judo and BJJ, the Brazilian rapidly loses faith in her ability to takedown an opponent and instead is easily dragged into firefights. Vieira is a powerful, athletic striker – but against the elite punchers of the division, Vieira is baited onto hard shots with relative ease. The competent boxing of Irene Aldana, far below the quality of Holly Holm, was enough to eventually land on Vieira’s chin and knock her out cold in around.
#7 Yana Kunitskaya has been unable to establish herself in the UFC. Debuting against Cris Cyborg for the Featherweight belt (joke of a division), Kunitskaya was blasted away in a round. Since then, Kunitskaya has secured three dreary decision victories over half-decent opposition while also succumbing to a third-round stoppage at the hands of Aspen Ladd. Kunitskaya is at her best when she can mix in her wrestling with her modest striking, wearing on her opponent against the cage or on the mat. While Kunitskaya keeps a decent guard, she leans over her guard with her chin exposed, its a surprise that she hasn’t been cleaned out more often.
Predicted Result: Vieira Decision
Kunitskaya doesn’t have the striking prowess to implement her much needed grappling. With a tendency to leave her chin out on a platter, Kunitskaya is at risk with Vieira’s power. While Vieira won’t be establishing herself as a formidable kickboxer at Bantamweight any time soon, she has enough skill to bully the Russian. Moreover, on the mat, it is hard to say that Kunitskaya would fare much better.
Result: Vieira def. Kunitskaya // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Darrick Minner (25-11) vs Charles Rosa (13-4)
Darrick Minner is a man who deserves a bit of respect to his name. Despite being a fighter limited to a number of submissions, Minner was still able to overwhelm hot prospect, T.J. Laramie and finish him early with a guillotine choke. It is kill or be killed with the Nebraskan, a fighter who has only reached the final bell a handful of times during his lengthy career. Constantly searching for a neck-related choke, he will struggle to break through Rosa’s exceptional submission defence.
Charles Rosa is a severely underrated fighter in the Featherweight roster. In a division filled to the brim with big names and flashy styles, Rosa is a well-rounded, spirited fighter who will continue to plug away in a bout and attempt to find an upper hand. Although Rosa was strangled by Bryce Mitchell for the full fifteen minutes, Rosa consistently survived scary submission attempts by remaining calm and slowly working himself into safer positions. If Mitchell struggled to lock in his famed twister, it is difficult to see how Minner will have an easier time.
Predicted Result: Rosa Submission Round 2
A wonderful match-up between two grappling-focused competitors, Rosa’s experience will prove the difference. Minner is effectively relegated to solely searching for neck-related submissions, and as shown in his spirited defence against Bryce Mitchell, Rosa is not an easy man to get to tap. Instead, Rosa has a strong BJJ base himself and can easily turn the tides once Minner has drained his tank in the first round. Moreover, Rosa’s hands are limited but are far crisper than the potshots that Minner loosely throws.
Result: Minner def. Rosa // Decision (unanimous – 29-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Aleksei Oleinik (59-14-1) vs Chris Daukaus (10-3)
Decades after I am dead and buried, Aleksei Oleinik will still be entering the octagon and submitting big fat Heavyweights. No matter his age, no matter his gas tank, no matter his inability to properly trade on the feet – Oleinik finds a way to expose the non-existent orthodox of every Heavyweight outside of the top-ten. We should praise Oleinik for his gatekeeper service, as to pass by the Russian you must have exceptional power or the ability to survive on the mat for longer than a minute.
It is still incredibly difficult to put your finger on just how good Chris Daukaus is. Entering the UFC after a long stint with Cage Fury, Daukaus has finished both his UFC opponents in under a round. Granted, neither man was a stud, but Parker Porter is an incredibly hearty brawler and Rodrigo Nascimento was an undefeated prospect. Rather tubby for the weight, Daukaus has so far been successful as a result of his superior hand speed, beating opponents to the punch.
Predicted Result: Daukaus TKO Round 3
It is a massive gamble to bet on either man, as this is the heavyweight division after all. Oleinik is an incredibly craft veteran, who has been changing up his gameplan in the past few fights. Throwing a ridiculous volume against Fabricio Werdum, Oleinik was able to suffocate the Brazilian with striking – weird, right? Still, Oleinik would be best advised to immediately search for a takedown and submission on the unproven ground game of Daukaus. If the fight is to stay standing, Daukaus’ volume and ability to land often in the clinch will favour him.
Result: Daukaus def. Oleinik // TKO (punches) Round 1 1:55
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌
Nassourdine Imavov (9-2) vs Phil Hawes (9-2)
B B B B BAAAAANGERRRRR. Twenty-four year old, Nassourdine Imavov, lives up to his nickname of ‘Russian Sniper’ as he uses his freak 6’3″ frame at Middleweight to pepper opponents from distance. Despite his three-inch height advantage to opponent Phil Hawes, UFC officials have Imavov pipped by two inches in the reach department – questionable! Regardless, Imavov wheels around the Octagon on his back foot and waits to counter opponents as they recklessly attempt to get within range. In the clinch, Imavov is surprisingly effective at leaning on his opponent and keep himself on his feet.
Phil Hawes is slowly making a name for himself in the Middleweight division. Kill or be killed, Hawes seems to finally have found his striking mojo in the biggest MMA promotion. Hidden behind his high guard, Hawes throws big looping haymakers to force opponents to shell before landing double leg takedowns on their open midriff. Usually, though, Hawes is unable to show off his sweltering top control as opponents are already asleep after being caught by the power punch.
Predicted Result: Imavov TKO Round 3
An early doors Hawes finish is the likely end to this bout, but Imavov’s distance management is an underrated aspect of the Frenchman’s game. While Imavov’s chin has not yet been questioned against the power of a ‘Hawes’-esque striker, Imavov has proven he is a dangerous striker during the closing rounds while Hawes dramatically falls off after the first five minutes. Furthermore, Imavov’s ability to keep himself upright will only drain Hawes faster in this contest.
Result: Hawes def. Imavov // Decision (majority – 28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Andrei Arlovski (30-19) vs Tom Aspinall (9-2)
Okay, so Oleinik is the gatekeeper of Heavyweight grappling,. Arlovski, therefore, is the gatekeeper of Heavyweight striking. While the veteran Belarussian will no longer be allowed near the Heavyweight gold, he has continued on his thankless task to prevent the very worst at Heavyweight from entering the rankings. Defensively compact, the difficultly in beating Arlovski is unlocking his tight guard, rather than eviscerating his biscuit chin. Arlovski is a master of ‘just doing enough to win’, and with a fantastic TDD, you have to earn your victory against the former UFC interim champion.
It is fair to say that the UFC is very hot on Englishman, Tom Aspinall. Nuking his two UFC foes within the first round, Aspinall has shown beautiful offensive boxing combinations. Against Alan Baudot, Aspinall was caught with a few silly counter strikes, but his chin looked up to the job against his undersized foe – still, something needing to be ironed out early.
Predicted Result: Aspinall Decision
Aspinall is a man who loves to use his jab, a strike which sometimes feels is banned in the dreary pot-shotting Heavyweight division. Arlovski is an immensely well-drilled operator who gives opponents few opportunities to break his guard, instead forcing opponents to create their openings on the feet. Aspinall’s tendency to linger in the pocket could come back to bite him on the arse in the future. Against Arlovski, Aspinall’s overwhelming volume should be enough to get him through his first big hurdle.
Result: Aspinall def. Arlovski // Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 2 1:09
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Jared Gordon (16-4) vs Danny Chavez (11-3)
Jared Gordon has his fans but unfortunately, I am yet to be crowned one just yet. An aggressive fighter, Gordon jumps on opponents early and regularly threaten with his wrestling. Unfortunately, Gordon’s striking is too often one-note to be able to pull off his swarming tactics. There is a delay between each shot in Gordon’s combinations that leads me to believe he is forcing his stand-up, it isn’t a pretty sight.
Danny Chavez is most comfortable when striking at a mid-range when he is afforded enough time to plant his feet and land heavier single shots. Against Gordon’s all-out aggression, it is a recipe for disaster. While Chavez’s defensive wrestling is nothing to turn your nose up at, constant TDD will wear on his ability to output the volume necessary to win on the scorecards.
Predicted Result: Gordon Decision
Neither man is destined to be holding the Featherweight gold any time soon, but Gordon’s ability to set a hellacious pace and keep to it will ensure he keeps a stranglehold over this fight. Chavez will have his moments but Gordon will steal this on activity alone.
Result: Gordon def. Chavez // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Drakkar Klose (11-2-1) vs Luis Pena (8-3)
It has almost been a year since Drakkar Klose returns to the Octagon after his back and forth affair with Beneil Dariush. Although unfortunately ending in a crushing defeat, Klose still showed a rarely seen source of power that almost switched off the lights of Dariush. Klose’s ability to stink out an octagon is common, however.
Is it finally time to give up on the Luis Pena hype train? After blowing up on The Ultimate Fighter, Pena seemed destined to reach the very top of the organisation. Sadly, Pena has regularly stumbled against humble opposition. Failing to fire off a regular jab despite his freak 75″ reach, Pena falls back onto his grappling. Even then, Pena struggles to fumble his way into ideal positions.
Predicted Result: Klose Decision
Honestly couldn’t care less for this fight, it’s a horrible stylistic match-up to watch. Klose’s ugly pressure fighting will be favoured on the scorecards, but Pena’s weird gangly ass grappling can always threaten a submission off his back.
Result: 🚫 FIGHT CANCELLED 🚫
Eddie Wineland (24-14-1) vs John Castaneda (17-5)
And to think, I thought Wineland was finished after his stunning first-round knockout to Sean O’Malley. The slick counter-puncher was unfortunately beaten to the punch by a longer, faster opponent during his last fight. Wineland’s chin has been cracked for some time now, yet his potent offence has ensured his career has never really come to an end.
This feels like the UFC is handing Castaneda one last fight for his UFC contract – his future depends on defeating a battle-worn veteran with clear weaknesses in his armour. Castaneda is an athlete with jittery striking and an ultimate aim to out-grapple opponents.
Predicted Result: Wineland TKO Round 3
Castenada is the safer pick but Wineland is far more experienced than his athletic foe. Castaneda’s lack of distance management will leave him regularly within Wineland’s striking range, and the old dude still got hands.
Result: Castenada def. Wineland // TKO (punches) Round 1 4:44
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌
Julian Erosa (24-8) vs Nate Landwehr (14-3)
I gave Erosa little respect before his match-up with Sean Woodson and paid a fateful price. Erosa has endured one of the more entertaining careers across MMA, having secured shock victories and fallen to embarrassing losses on a yearly basis. In now, his third stint with the premier MMA promotion, Erosa finally looks to be a threatening fighter on the roster. Never letting his foot off the gas, Erosa applies front foot pressure and throws to kill.
I don’t know if it is Landwehr’s cringey persona or the travesty that he calls his receding hairline, but Nate Landwehr rubs me up the wrong way. Perhaps I wouldn’t mind if Landwehr wasn’t a clear swanger and banger. It is somewhat fun to watch, but his complete lack of striking defence means he will struggle to rise far up the rankings before he ends up in a comatose state (such as Herbert Burns had him in).
Predicted Result: Landwehr Decision
Landwehr’s extra durability and volume are to be favoured in this match-up. While Erosa’s jab may create an opening to land big of Nate’s chin and eventually transition to a submission, Landwehr’s aggressive style will have Erosa back against the cage for much of the fight.
Result: Erosa def. Landwehr // TKO (flying knee) Round 1 0:56
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Rafael Alves (19-9) vs Pat Sabatini (13-3)
Big fat mess, Rafael Alves, has just missed weight by a RECORD 11.5pounds and forced this bout to be cancelled. Ridiculous. To be overweight in the weight class above is something quite incredible. CERTIFIED FOOL.
Predicted Result: Sabatini KO Alves by way of diet
Result: 🚫 FIGHT CANCELLED 🚫
Women’s Flyweight (125)
Shana Dobson (4-4) vs Casey O’Neill (5-0)
In one of the biggest underdog victories of UFC history, +950 underdog Shana Dobson shocked the world when she stopped Mariya Agapova on the ground in the second round. While a wonderful night for Dobson, she remains a limited fighter who relies almost entirely on her boxing ability.
Debutant Casey O’Neill is a twenty-three-year-old undefeated prospect who is fighting the bottom of the UFC’s Flyweight barrel. Still, O’Neill will be ramping up her opposition quality and may find it difficult to rain in a similar volume of whirlwind hooks against an opponent who is able to absorb the shots and is willing to return fire.
Predicted Result: O’Neill Decision
Very difficult fight to call as O’Neill doesn’t look stellar in any of the footage from her early career. Dobson, however, has been confirmed to be a limited, power boxer with a decent chin. O’Neill’s preference to mix in her wrestling with striking will diversify her offence enough to win the judges’ votes.
Result: O’Neill def. Dobson // TKO (punches) Round 2 3:41
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Chas Skelly (18-3) vs Jamall Emmers (18-5)
Chas Skelly has been with the organisation for over seven years now but has only managed to accrue two fights in the last four years. Injuries, withdrawals and other unavoidable circumstances have left the thirty-four-year-old without any hype and with potentially one foot out of the door. Never a striker to write home about, Skelly is a grappler who seeks to submit and will happily burn all his fuel early to find the finish.
So far, Emmers has a stunning 100% TDD, never taken to the mat by Vince Cachero, Giga Chikadze or Julian Erosa. Emmer’s equal lack of striking capability, however, will force the pair to eventually take the fight to the mat. The biggest question will be if Emmers can survive the early submission onslaught to cruise to the third round.
Predicted Result: Skelly Submission Round 2
A very close fight where Emmers should be favoured for his competent TDD and athletic advantage. Skelly, however, is a nightmare to contain during the early rounds and may have enough quality in his locker to force Emmers to tap.
Result: 🚫 FIGHT CANCELLED 🚫
Aiemann Zahabi (7-2) vs Drako Rodriguez (7-1)
Zahabi has failed to secure a victory in four years – not a great statistic for a thirty-three-year-old supposed ‘prospect’. Zahabi is a probing fighter who is technically polished but lacks the raw athleticism to ever threaten the Bantamweight rankings. Also, Zahabi tends to dip far too low in his stance, leaving him unable to counter and make up for his lack of power by catching opponents blind.
DWCS prospect, Drako Rodriguez, is a frenetic striker/grappler who is awfully raw around the edges. There is no denying the kid has talent, but at just twenty-four years old, it may have been safer to allow Rodriguez to round out his edges in a feeder league for longer.
Predicted Result: Rodriguez Decision
Rodriguez is awfully raw but he is a certified prospect at Bantamweight. While Zahabi has the polish and experience to simply outsmart his foe, Rodriguez’s incredible athleticism and ability to keep his head moving off the centre line will prevent Zahabi from establishing his jab.
Result: Zahabi def. Rodriguez // KO (punch) Round 1 3:05
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Sergey Spivak (11-2) vs Jared Vanderaa (11-4)
Big lump, Sergey Spivak, is a secret favourite of mine. Hidden away in the dark dark depths that is the unranked Heavyweight division, Spivak is a norti grappler with a list of submissions to threaten with. Moreover, since his shock defeat of Tai Tuivasa, Spivak has refined his striking so that he is unlikely to be melted in the first minute anymore.
Vanderaa called for this fight, and Dana White was more than happy to gift him it. Another DWCS prospect, Vanderaa is a heavy-hitting brawler who likes to plant his feet and throw with almost no movement in his upper body/legs. Worse yet, Vanderaa struggles to keep afloat on the ground, an area that Spivak obviously excels in.
Predicted Result: Spivak Submission Round 3
Vanderaa is a threat during the opening proceedings as his heavy hands can similarly torch Spivak’s chin as Walt Harris. The big lump’s refined jab, however, will grant him relief inside the octagon and eventually find the route to bring the fight to the ground. On the mat, Spivak will have complete control of the DWCS prospect.
Result: Spivak def. Vanderaa // TKO (punches) Round 2 4:32
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
UFC Fight Night 185
2021 MMA Season
Takeaway comments: Surprising night of finishes!