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Curtis Blaydes wants a crack at the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title, but he now faces the difficult task of having to potentially navigate five rounds with one of the sport’s scariest power punchers.
The Elevation Fight Team export will confront former Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder Derrick Lewis in the UFC Fight Night 185 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, where another successful performance would inch him closer to his ultimate goal. Blaydes has rattled off four consecutive victories since he succumbed to blows from Francis Ngannou some two years ago. He last appeared at UFC on ESPN 11 in June, when he laid claim to an exhausting five-round unanimous decision over onetime Bellator MMA and M-1 Global champion Alexander Volkov. Lewis, meanwhile, has pieced together a three-fight winning streak. “The Black Beast” last competed at UFC Fight Night 174, where he brought down Alexey Oleynik with punches in the second round of their Aug. 8 main event.
As UFC Fight Night “Blaydes vs. Lewis” approaches, a look at some of the numbers the fighters on the card have generated to this point:
59: Takedowns completed by Blaydes inside the Octagon, most all-time among UFC heavyweights. He also ranks first in top position time (59:44) and control time (1:13:28).
19: Lewis wins by knockout or technical knockout, accounting for 79% of his career total (24). His list of victims includes the aforementioned Volkov, Marcin Tybura, Travis Browne, Shamil Abdurakhimov, Gabriel Gonzaga and Jared Rosholt. Lewis owns four other victories by decision and one by submission.
5: Countries in which Yana Kunitskaya has competed as a professional mixed martial artist. She has gone 4-3 in the United States, 5-1 in Russia, 2-0 in Poland, 2-0 in Lithuania and 0-1 in Denmark. Kunitskaya faces Ketlen Vieira in the three-round co-main event at 135 pounds.
1: Loss on the Vieira resume. The Nova Uniao standout succumbed to first-round punches from Irene Aldana at UFC 245 in December 2019. Vieira entered the match as a -210 favorite.
8: Submission wins to Charles Rosa’s credit, providing the American Top Team rep with 62% of his professional total (13). His methods of choice: four armbars, one triangle choke, one Peruvian necktie, one anaconda choke and one brabo choke. Rosa holds three other victories by knockout and two by decision. He draws Darrick Minner in a three-round featherweight showcase.
7: Sub-minute finishes on the Minner ledger. Included among them: a 31-second rear-naked choke submission of Clay Collard and a 52-second guillotine choke submission of T.J. Laramie.
43: Years of age for Oleynik. The oldest fighter on the card, he was born on June 25, 1977—78 days before the Atari 2600 gaming console made its debut—in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Oleynik takes on Chris Daukaus in a featured heavyweight attraction.
45: Seconds needed for Daukaus to punch out Rodrigo Nascimento Ferreira in his organizational debut at UFC Fight Night 179 on Oct. 10. It was the fastest stoppage win of his 13-fight career.
100: Percent finish rate for Phil Hawes. The Sanford MMA export has delivered seven of his nine victories by knockout and two others by submission. Hawes tackles Nassourdine Imavov in a three-round middleweight feature.
38: Significant strikes by which Imavov outlanded Jordan Williams at UFC on ESPN 16 in October. The Frenchman connected with 68 such strikes and absorbed only 30 in return, as he posted a unanimous decision over Williams in his first UFC assignment. Imavov also completed one takedown, attempted four submissions and piled up 4:51 of control time.
19: Arlovski victories under the UFC banner, tying him with Diego Sanchez, Rafael dos Anjos and Dustin Poirier for seventh on the promotion’s all-time list. Only Donald Cerrone (23), Demian Maia (22), Jim Miller (21), Michael Bisping (20), Georges St. Pierre (20) and Jon Jones (20) have more. Arlovksi puts Tom Aspinall to the test in a three-round heavyweight showcase.
54.5: Seconds Aspinall requires, on average, to procure victory. He has recorded all nine of his wins inside one round, five of them in less than a minute.
23: Years of age for promotional newcomer Casey O’Neill. The youngest fighter on the card, she was born on Oct. 7, 1997 in Irvine, Scotland. O’Neill makes her Octagon debut opposite Shana Dobson in a preliminary flyweight clash.
.756: Cumulative winning percentage between the 30 fighters scheduled to compete at the event. They own a combined record of 464-147-3. Oleynik owns the most wins (59) of any fighter on the card, while Arlovski has been saddled with the most losses (19).