Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis will face each other on Saturday night in the main event at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. Two weeks on from Alexander Volkov's victory against Alistair Overeem, the last two men to stop Volkov will face each other in a matchup that will have a major impact on the future of the division.
Curtis Blaydes was earlier scheduled to meet Derrick Lewis in November 2020 but the match had to be rescheduled as the former tested positive for COVID-19 a day before the match.
#2 contender Curtis Blaydes will enter this matchup riding a four-fight winning streak since getting knocked out by Francis Ngannou. Blaydes' win streak includes second-round TKO wins over Junior Dos Santos and Shamil Abdurakhimov and decision victories against Alexander Volkov and Justin Willis.
Derrick Lewis will enter the UFC fight night on a three-fight win streak of his own. After losing bouts to Daniel Cormier and Junior Dos Santos, "The Black Beast" picked up decision victories over Blagoy Ivanov and Ilir Latifi at UFC 244 and UFC 247, respectively. Lewis also has a second-round TKO win over Aleksei Oleinik.
The co-main event of the night is in the women’s bantamweight division as #6 contender Ketlen Vieira takes on #7 ranked Yana Kunitskaya. Ketlen Vieira is coming off a unanimous decision win against Sijara Eubanks at UFC 253. Meanwhile, Yana Kunitskaya has won three of her last four, recently defeating Julija Stoliarenko by decision.
The event will be packed with heavyweight action, with bouts featuring Aleksei Oleinik and former champion Andrei Arlovski. The main card will also feature a featherweight contest between Charles Rosa and Darrick Minner and a middleweight bout between Philip Hawes and Nassourdine Imavov.
We take a look at three fights to look forward to and two that are likely to disappoint at UFC Fight Night: Curtis Blaydes vs Derrick Lewis.
Fight to look forward to: Aleksei Oleinik vs Chris Daukas
This is an interesting matchup at heavyweight as Aleksei Oleinik, competing in his 75th professional fight is a +140 underdog. With nearly six times as many wins as his competitor, Aleksei Oleinik provides a huge jump in competition for Chris Daukas, who will be competing in his 4th pro fight.
The 'Boa Constrictor' will attempt to take the game to the mat as he looks to rebound after a knockout loss to Derrick Lewis. The older of the Daukas siblings possesses charisma along with a powerful left hook and a razor-sharp cross. The contest could end in a highlight reel finish and is a potential fight of the night contender.
Fight likely to disappoint: Ketlen Vieira vs Yana Kunitskaya
Ketlen Vieira's dream run in the UFC came to an end in 2019 when she faced Irene Aldana. With a black belt in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Vieira will look to grapple her way into starting another win streak. Meanwhile, Yana Kunitskaya will rely on her taekwondo and muay thai skills to keep the fight standing.
While Ketlen Vieira is susceptible to counters in loading up her shots, Yana Kunitskaya hasn't had a stoppage victory since 2016. This fight will probably be an underwhelming affair and is likely to go the distance.
Fight to look forward to: Phillip Hawes vs Nassourdine Imavov
Both middleweights enter the Octagon after victorious promotional debuts. Nassourdine Imavov is on a six-fight win streak dating back to 2017, while Philip Hawes burst into the scene with an 18-second knockout of Jacob Malkoun at UFC 254.
Philip Hawes brings explosive power and striking to the table but Imavov, with a bigger frame, might have an advantage in the clinch. This middleweight bout is expected to be full of action and probably won't go to the judges' scorecards.
Fight likely to disappoint: Charles Rosa vs Darrick Minner
Featherweight grapplers Charles Rosa and Darrick Minner will try to build on their last wins from 2020. Charles Rosa has alternated wins and losses throughout his UFC career and has served as a measuring stick for up-and-comers like Bryce Mitchell. Meanwhile, Darrick Minner has 25 pro wins to his name with 22 of them coming via submission.
This will certainly be an elite grappling contest but could certainly lack the urgency of some of the other fights on the card.
Fight to look forward to: Curtis Blaydes vs Derrick Lewis
The main event is a fight to look forward to for a number of reasons. For one, the winner of the contest could possibly fight the winner of Miocic-Ngannou.
Curtis Blaydes will look to utilize his pressure, cardio and constant movement to wear out Derrick Lewis before securing a takedown, which might lead to a TKO or submission. 'The Black Beast', on the other hand, can prove to be lethal if he can keep the fight on his feet.
With multiple outcomes possible, the main event for UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Lewis promises to be a barn burner.