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Outlook: In a universe where Francis Ngannou doesn’t exist, Curtis Blaydes is the clear-cut next in line. He dominated each of his wins, and surprisingly, he didn’t need to secure a takedown against Junior Dos Santos, instead besting the perennial contender on the feet. That said, Blaydes makes it clear he intends to be the “heavyweight Khabib” and dominate by way of his wrestling acumen. That makes a hypothetical fight with Daniel Cormier incredibly enticing, but also unlikely because Cormier seems laser-focused on Miocic. He’ll have to wait for Ngannou to get his shot as well after falling to him twice. Blaydes’ situation is a little comparable to that of Justin Gaethje, who needs to wait for a deserving contender to get their shot but also has to probably wait for a rematch to be held, as well. Blaydes is only 29, though, and while he isn’t looking to waste time, his ever-improving skill set suggests he’ll get his turn soon enough.


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