FRANK HYDEN, MMATorch Columnist
I think Mark Hunt wins by KO in the second round. I just don’t know if Curtis Blaydes is ready for what Hunt will bring to the fight. I think they start slow, respecting any power shots, but build up in the second round and Hunt drops Blaydes with a powerful overhand right for the walk-off win.
COLE HENRY, MMATorch Contributor
This is an interesting fight to break down.
On the surface, it seems that Curtis Blaydes does not have anything that Mark Hunt hasn’t seen before. He has power, but it isn’t necessarily notable, and he does have a background in wrestling, but again his wrestling doesn’t really stand out. He has managed to win through grit, and really seems to be learning as he goes.
Mark Hunt on the other hand is who he always has been. He isn’t going to look for a takedown, and he won’t look for heel hooks or anything like that. Mark Hunt is going to try to take Blaydes head off and I think that’s clear. Question is can he? Hunt doesn’t have a track record of fighting a lot of wrestlers, and the last two he did fight: Stipe Miocic and Brock Lesnar, beat him with their wrestling. Stipe seems to prefer the stand up, but he worked his wrestling to his advantage against Hunt and thoroughly dominated the fight.
I think Blaydes may use a similar method here and use a wrestling heavy approach to try to get Hunt down and wear him out. I could see it working on paper, but still my gut tells me that eventually Hunt cracks him and stops him in the late second or early third.
Just to add some confusion to my answer here though I’m going to go ahead and ignore my gut and say that Blaydes surprises us and gets the job done via unanimous decision in a gritty back and forth fight. I really like him as a future contender in this division. He had the misfortune of running into Francis Ngannou is his UFC debut, but since then he has looked great and is only improving. The UFC Heavyweight division needs some young depth, and with a fairly more well-rounded style than Ngannou, it’s possible that he could actually have a brighter future despite the earlier loss.
RAFFAEL IGLESIAS, MMATorch Contributor
I still can’t believe Mark Hunt is fighting in the UFC. Legal issues notwithstanding, I feel like I’ve been watching Hunt fight forever. Curtis Blaydes is a borderline top 10 heavyweight looking to surpass Hunt in the division. Hunt has been susceptible to wrestler take-downs in the past. Blaydes is the caliber of wrestler that could cause Hunt serious problems. Blaydes should take this one to the ground and pound Hunt to a third-round stoppage. Of course, I wouldn’t be shocked if Hunt KO’d Blaydes in the first round either.
RICK MONSEY, MMATorch Contributor
Mark Hunt will find his way to victory against Curtis Blaydes in a three-round decision. Curtis Blaydes has a very good upside but Hunt has power and that will keep Blaydes at bay.
DYLAN BOWKER, MMATorch Contributor
This is an exciting fight on paper. Hunt certainly has the power to stop Blaydes inside the distance and hit his patented walk-off after the KO.
Curtis has shown a degree of resilience in past fights and has a strong wrestling acumen though. This is a telling crossroads fight for both of these warriors. Hunt nearing the end of his contract as well as his public disputes with the UFC have taken up a fair bit of the discussion heading into this fight.
This fight has a tremendous amount of potential to be a barn burner though. Both men are aggressive, have durable chins, and one shot can always dramatically alter the course of a heavyweight fight. To me, I can see this providing Blaydes with the statement win his career needs. Not discounting Hunt, who is always dangerous, but I’m going with Curtis by unanimous decision.
SEAN COVINGTON, MMATorch Contributor
Mark Hunt has a couple of good fights left in him and this will be one of them. Hunt is going to shine in this one. If Hunt loses then he should hang it up because his next fight would be even worse.
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