Exclusive: Curtis Blaydes On Tom Aspinall, Alex Pereira, Was Ciryl Gane A Go For UFC 304?

UFC 304's Blaydes breaks down his upcoming fight against Tom Aspinall and what's going on at heavyweight.

Curtis Blaydes Ufc 304
(via @tomaspinallofficial, @razorblaydes265, @ciryl_gane - Instagram)

Curtis Blaydes wasn’t expecting the UFC to ring him up for a title fight.

The UFC’s heavyweight division is on hold right now with champion Jon Jones still out due to injury, waiting for a fight with former champ Stipe Miocic. That’s where #1 contender Tom Aspinall comes in for a rare defense of the interim title at UFC 304 where he meets former foe Curtis Blaydes.

Being Offered Aspinall

Ranked #4, Blaydes just got back to winning ways with a monstrous TKO stoppage of Jailton Almeida at UFC 299. Going off of name-value, Blaydes didn’t think he’d end up being chosen as the next title contender but that all changed when the UFC finally came a-calling moments before locking in his summer vacation.

“Mentally, I was already planning on taking my girlfriend out to Japan,” Blaydes told Middle Easy. “I wasn’t going to sit around and wait. I was under the impression the UFC, they offered the fight to [Ciryl] Gane first and they gave him about two weeks to decide if he wanted to take it while he was just deciding I was planning and picking hotels for Japan. So, I had already mentally moved on and was preparing to enjoy the summer.”

More Title Shots In Store For Gane?

Why is Ciryl Gane not fighting at UFC 304? According to Aspinall, the former interim champion is crossing over into the movie industry as an actor to become the “French Arnold Schwarzenegger”. Gane has hinted he’ll be fighting again as early as September. 

Gane has already fought for the undisputed title twice, his first being against Francis Ngannou and his latest being a first-round submission loss to Jon Jones at UFC 285. After each loss, France’s Gane dusted himself off and won for another title shot. Entering his first title fight at UFC 304, Blaydes thinks we’ll see Gane get a crack his belt soon enough and how that’s not out of the question.

“He knows he’ll get another one. He’s already had two title shots. I’m pretty sure. I agree with him,” Blaydes said of Gane sitting out at UFC 304. “He’ll get at least one more, if not two more. He’s French. Obviously the UFC wants that market. He’s the biggest name they have right now. Or they want him to be on TV and fighting, having fights that really matter as often as possible. So, I wouldn’t be shocked if I beat Aspinall, if they offered me him, I would not be shocked.

“He brings in a lot more [eyes], it’s not about meritocracy. I learned that years and years ago. It’s about who brings asses in the seats and that’s one thing I haven’t mastered, although I haven’t really put a whole lot of energy into that. I’ve put all my energy into growing in the gym.”

On the topic of meritocracy, Jon Jones’ next fight will not be on the terms of a title unification with either Aspinall or Blaydes. The heavyweight champ insists on fighting Stipe Miocic in what some are saying could be his final fight ever. That may be hard pill to swallow for Aspinall and his fellow heavyweights, but not so much for Blaydes.

“He could prove me wrong, but I don’t believe Jon’s going to continue fighting after the Stipe fight. He’d have to prove me wrong, but as of right now, that’s my belief.”

Aspinall vs. Pereira… Still On The Table?

Another wildcard that could have left Blaydes fresh out of this fight is a heavyweight move for Alex Pereira. The reigning light heavyweight champion has been adamant about moving up to the heavyweight division and even Aspinall has been trying to peak interest in a super-fight between him and “Poatan.” Luckily not the odd man out in this case, Blaydes says it’s not too late for the UFC to pull the rug from out under him by booking Aspinall vs. Pereira instead.

“He could do it, it depends on him,” Blaydes said of Pereira. “If he wanted to fight Aspinall, he could have had this opportunity. I fully believe if he called Dana White right now and was like, ‘Yo, actually on second thought, I’ll go to England, I’ll fight him’. The UFC would call me right now and be like, ‘Yeah, bad news, bud’. And I get it. It’s business. This is not a meritocracy. What you do in the case does not matter what you do outside of the case. How these interviews like this, how you talk smack how you, what you do on Instagram and Twitter or X or whatever, that’s what gets you title fights because that’s what the casual fans want to see.

They Don’t Get Paid By The Hour

As for how Curtis Blaydes sees his fight with Tom Aspinall unfolding, here’s his prediction:

“I see me getting a first-round knockout within the first 25 seconds of the fight.”

Watch Curtis Blaydes’ full interview with James Lynch below:

Published on May 21, 2024 at 8:10 pm
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