Image Credit: UFC / YouTube

Recently the UFC released a promo vid which featured Daniel Cormier relaying that he thinks highly of Curtis Blaydes, and now the heavyweight contender has responded to the champ’s comments.

Blaydes is preparing to rematch Francis Ngannou this Saturday at the UFC’s latest Fight Night card, which is taking place in Beijing, China. In advance of the event, the UFC posted a vid which included Cormier saying this (quote via MMA Junkie):

“Curtis Blaydes is a new guy,” Cormier said. “This is a big, strong, durable wrestler, who is now gaining confidence in his hands. What I’ve seen from Curtis Blaydes is constant evolution and a guy that’s on the cusp of fighting for a UFC championship.”

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Well, since the video went up, MMA Junkie caught up with Blaydes, and when asked to respond to the champ’s comments, the rising star said this:

“That’s respect. Real recognizes real,” Blaydes said. “He knows I’m on the way. I’ve been telling people that for the last eight months, but having him bring it up, it only validates the things I’ve already been saying.”

“…I will get that belt,” Blaydes was also quoted saying. “Doesn’t matter if it’s this year or next year or 2020, I will get the belt. It’s inevitable.”

Yup, even if you’re not a fan of wrestling-centric fighters or don’t appreciate that element of the game, you can’t deny that Blaydes has been pretty, pretty impressive. What he did to Alistair Overeem was jaw-dropping, to say the least, and that win followed a one-sided, wrestling clinic against Mark Hunt.

It’s also not surprising, really, to see Cormier praising Blaydes. After all, if anyone can appreciate top-tier wrestling it’s “DC”, and the champ understands that negating takedowns at that level is extremely difficult.

Therefore, the big question is, can Ngannou do that against Blaydes this Saturday? In their first bout, back in 2016, Ngannou defended four of the six takedowns Blaydes came with. Ngannou went on to win the fight via doctor stoppage (as Blaydes’ right eye appeared to be completely swollen shut).

But that fight marked Blaydes’ UFC debut, and it was only his sixth pro-fight. Recently the 27-year-old has been talking about how he’s a more complete fighter now, and that his striking has improved since he faced Ngannou the first time around. That should help “Razor” set up his takedowns better.

Then again, you could argue and or question whether Ngannou is a better wrestler now? Then he was in 2016?