In the weeks leading up to their heavyweight showdown, Willis (8-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) has taken every opportunity to put Blaydes (10-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) on blast. Willis has said both Blaydes’ personality and fighting style are “boring,” and “Razor” has heard every bit of it in advance of Saturday’s bout. He refuses to let it shake him, though, and vows not to be thrown off his game come fight night.
“He thinks he’s the next Colby Covington or whatever, I don’t know,” Blaydes told MMA Junkie on Wednesday at UFC on ESPN+ 6 open workouts. “I think he feels that his hands aren’t good enough, so he has to get in my head. He needs me to be mentally unstable in order to beat me, which only adds more confidence in myself. I’ve never needed to play mind games. I believe in my skill, I believe in my coaches, I believe in my sparring partners. I don’t need to play mind games, and I won’t engage in mind games with him either.”
UFC on ESPN+ 6 takes place at Bridgestone Arena. The entire card streams on ESPN+.
The modern era of MMA has seen a heightened focus on outside-the-cage antics and the significance of building up a fight. That’s not Blaydes’ style, though, and he prefers to do his talking inside the octagon.
In the fight against Willis, who is an honorable mention in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie MMA heavyweight rankings, No. 7 Blaydes believes he holds basically every advantage. Blaydes said there’s nothing about “Big Pretty” that causes him concern, especially when it comes to talk of how their wrestling matches up.
“I’m going to take him down,” Blaydes said. “He’s not going to take me down; we’re going to take him down. He’s trying to play this thing like he’s a wrestler. He’s doing reverse psychology: ‘I’m so good at wrestling I don’t even have to wrestle.’ If you’re so good at wrestling, why have you never shot? How many finishes does he have in UFC? One? He just hasn’t been that impressive. So for someone to have the mouth he has, you would think he was (Francis) Ngannou. If Ngannou was talking this I would be like, ‘What are you going to say?’ This isn’t that guy.”
Speaking of Ngannou, Blaydes is coming off a tough loss to “The Predator” in their rematch at UFC Fight Night 141 in November. After losing the fight because of a doctor’s stoppage, Blaydes got himself back in position to run it back with the knockout specialist. Unfortunately, the rematch went worse, as he was put away in just 45 seconds.
Although that type of defeat would inflict mental wear-and-tear on an athlete, Blaydes said he wasn’t too hard on himself and expects to come back stronger.
“Wasn’t a whole lot to take positively or negatively,” Blaydes said. “It was that fast. I don’t think I did anything necessarily wrong; Ngannou just has good power. He caught me on the back of the head, which is a weird equilibrium. He knocked my equilibrium. I wasn’t out, but I remember the hit, I remember hitting the ground, I remember seeing his leg, and I could feel him behind me. I just couldn’t fight. It was one of those things where I was unlucky.”
To hear more from Blaydes, watch the video above.