Hard-Hitting Ngannou Set For UFC Rematch Vs. Blaydes

Clint MacLean

Sunday, November 18, 2018 2:47 PM UTC

Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018 2:47 PM UTC

Darren Elkins did not come through for us at UFC Fight Night 140, but now we will count on Francis Ngannou to bounce back in a big way as a big dog against Curtis Blaydes on Saturday in China.

Curtis Blaydes vs. Francis NgannouFree UFC Pick: Ngannou ML +176Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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UFC Fight Night 141 will take place at the Cadillac Arena in Beijing, China, on Saturday at 6:30 a.m. ET. Fun fact: Due to the time difference, the main event will start at around 2 a.m.! Local fighters and fighters who are traveling out earlier to get used to the time difference might have an edge in these fights, so keep an eye on social media accounts and fighter interviews for little nuggets of information that may be a bigger edge than usual for this event.

The main event of UFC Fight Night 141 is a rematch with the whole heavyweight division watching. Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou met in April 2016 when they were both on the rise as exciting young contenders. Ngannou won that fight by doctor stoppage in Round 2, but Blaydes had not looked bad in the fight prior to the stoppage and he has been itching to get that loss back.

Ngannou went on to win four fights in a row and earn his shot at the heavyweight strap against Stipe Miocic when he suffered his first UFC loss. He dropped his next fight to Derrick Lewis in the most boring fight in UFC history. I do not mean that figuratively. They set the record for the least amount of strikes thrown in a UFC fight.

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Since losing to Ngannou, Blaydes has gone on a five-fight win streak and is 10-1. Blaydes has gotten a finish in two of his last three fights, showing more striking ability. Blaydes is rounding out his game and while that is impressive he is still not where he should be to attempt to stand with Ngannou.

Ngannou was beaten by Stipe because he wasn't able to stop the take down and he gassed out. Blaydes is a talented wrestler himself, but has he improved to the point where we can count him on the level of Stipe? I don't believe so. Both fighters having been improving on the area that is the other's strength, which makes this fight very interesting. I think Blaydes will feel more confident in his striking and risk standing with Ngannou, and I think Ngannou will have improved his counter-wrestling enough to keep the fight standing. If this fight stays standing, that's Ngannou's world and I expect him to touch Blaydes' chin again and get the win.

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Also on the card, Allistair Overeem returns against UFC newcomer Sergey Pavlovich, who is 12-0 and has nine of those wins by KO/TKO. This smells like a fight where the UFC is trying to launch one more star off of Allistair's legendary name by sacrificing him to a younger fighter. Allistair's chin has been gone for some time and the two men in the main event actually took what was left of it. Allistair's last two fights were brutal KO losses to Blaydes and Ngannou and I think the UFC is giving him a sink-or-swim fight here, expecting his glass chin to get cracked one more time. There is no line, but I have an early lean to Pavlovich and if they make him a dog I will definitely be looking at that line.

There's a ton of talent on this card, but one more fighter I'd like to point out as somebody you need to keep an eye on is Weili Zhang. She is 17-1-0 with nine TKOs and six submissions. Her last fight was a dominant performance in her UFC debut against Danielle Taylor. She is matched up against Jessica Aguilar, who will be a sturdy test for Zhang's second UFC fight and I expect her to pass with flying colors.

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