Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight prospects Curtis Blaydes and Daniel Omielanczuk will square off this Saturday (July 8, 2017) at UFC 213 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This fight doesn’t quite have the name value of the rest of the card. Neither man is a former champion, current top contender or even long-time veteran. Luckily, one of them — a certain “Razor” Blaydes — is among the best prospects to arise at Heavyweight in a very long time. His opponent is an accomplished fighter in his own right, no title contender, but a perfect step up and veteran test for the young wrestler.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 6-1 (1)
Key Wins: Cody East (UFC Fight Night 96), Adam Milstead (UFC Fight Night 104) Note: The Milstead win was officially overturned due to a failed drug test for marijuana, but the Texas commission has bizarrely low requirements to fail such a test, so I’m overlooking it.
Key Losses: Francis Ngannou (UFC Fight Night 86)
Keys to Victory: Blaydes made his debut on short-notice opposite the red hot Francis Ngannou and was ultimately stopped, though he did better than anyone else. Either way, Blaydes has since proven that he’s a serious prospect and potential contender in his own right.
Blaydes is a giant combination of wrestling, power punches and physicality.
That should be the perfect foil to Daniel Omielanczuk. “The Polish Bear” is not a bad fighter by any means, but he’s one of the few Heavyweights without truly deadly knockout power. He tends to win fights via tackle and strangle, which will be a terribly difficult strategy to employ opposite a decorated high school and junior college wrestler.
For Blaydes, he would be best advised to put the pace on Omielanczuk. His athleticism edge is huge, and he should be quick enough to blast his opponent around the cage with punches. Additionally, whenever he desires, the opening to drop down and work for a takedown is likely there.
So long as his defense doesn’t get sloppy, this should be an easy win.
Key Wins: Alexey Oleinik (UFC Fight Night 91), Chris de la Rocha (UFC Fight Night 72)
Key Losses: Stefan Struve (UFC 204), Timothy Johnson (UFC Fight Night 107), Anthony Hamilton (UFC Fight Night 64)
Keys to Victory: Omielanczuk is a well-rounded Heavyweight. He’s got fast hands that land with reasonable power, an above-average wrestling game, and the Pole has submitted nine of his past opponents.
As mentioned, he’s up against it here.
If Omielanczuk has any advantages in this bout, they are his submission grappling and experience. It may be difficult to bring them into play against the larger and more athletic wrestler, but there’s always a chance, particularly at Heavyweight.
To give himself the best shot at success, Omielanczuk should seek to brawl with Blaydes. Blaydes is the heavier puncher, true, but Omielanczuk is historically a durable fighter and is the underdog anyway.
That perfect shot could land and make this an easy night of work.
If not, Blaydes inexperience may show. He’s likely not fully comfortable on his feet yet, which could lead him to attempting to force a grappling exchange. Any time a fighter forces the wrestling, it costs energy and leaves them vulnerable to counters that a veteran like Omielanczuk could potentially capitalize on.
Bottom Line: It’s a test for Blaydes.
Blaydes’ last two fights have been dominant and violent — the ideal pair for any young prospect. He’s climbing the ranks quickly, and another win here will introduce him into the Top 15. He’s only been a professional for three years now, so that’s definitely a massive accomplishment that says big things about his championship potential.
If he loses, he needs to slow his roll and gain more experience before trying again.
As for Omielanczuk, this is definitely a risky fight. He has lost his last two and is a large underdog. He’s not at risk of being released — Heavyweight needs all the faces it can get — but it also puts him out of the rankings and in a generally poor position. Alternatively, a win does keep him relevant and put him back in the win column, ready for a fighter ranked above him.
At UFC 213, Curtis Blaydes and Daniel Omielanczuk will duel. Who will earn the victory?