01 Jan Curtis Blaydes is a ‘big fan’ of women’s MMA, but not of fighters who don’t deserve roster spot
Curtis Blaydes wants to make one thing perfectly clear: He’s absolutely a fan of women’s MMA.
That opinion was lost in April when UFC heavyweight contender engaged in a back-and-forth with several prominent female athletes. After Blaydes made a social media post regarding fighters who “complain and gripe about being overly sexualized by fans/media but then at the same time many of them are profiting off said sexualization thru media endorsements, high profile placement on fight cards, and overall popularity which leads to many other financial opportunities,” he was called out by vets Pearl Gonzalez and Paige VanZant, whom he named as examples in support of his argument.
Blaydes said at the end of the day, his issue with women’s MMA applies to male fighters just as easily.
“I love watching the top girls get in there and put on high displays of fighting,” Blaydes told MMA Fighting. “We just saw UFC 248, Joanna [Jedrzejczyk] and [Zhang] Weili, that was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen regardless of gender. That was one of the best performances I’ve seen ever. The back and forth, the high IQ techniques, the counters, the movement, I like that stuff.
“But just like there’s dudes in the men’s division I feel don’t really do a good job representing MMA, [and] I feel they don’t deserve a roster spot. I’m not dropping names, but there are dudes who don’t deserve it and there are girls who don’t. It’s equal opportunity.”
Just as he stated in his initial post, Blaydes isn’t knocking anybody’s hustle when it comes to making money in the sport. But he ultimately believes a person’s skill set and resume should determine who gets to keep a roster spot in the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
“I wish I had the opportunity to get into the UFC based on anything besides my skill in the octagon,” Blaydes explained. “I wish, but I don’t have that opportunity. I have to get in the gym and perfect my craft and go out there and beat somebody. Your record should be indicative of a top [world-class] fighter. Being in the UFC with a 6-5 record or 5-4, it doesn’t look like you belong in the UFC.
“After watching some of these fights, the skill level is not there. They’re using the same combo over and over and over, and it’s not effective. You don’t have a plan B. You have one combo and you’ve been fighting for eight years. You should have one more than combo after eight years in MMA. There are a lot of girls like that. They have one skill set, one move and I get them signing with the UFC and I get them getting paid. I think those spots would go to other girls, but they’re not as marketable I guess.”
Blaydes looks at a sport like football as the perfect example where the talent is the only thing that matters when a roster spot is attained. The way he sees it, marketability is great, but that can’t trump talent when it comes to the UFC.
“The NFL doesn’t do that,” Blaydes said. “That’s one thing I love about the NFL If you can’t play, they’re not going to pay you. They’re going to release you. They love doing that. If you cannot do the main thing you’re supposed to do, which is fight. If you’re not good at that part, why am I paying you money?
“That’s not me hating on women’s MMA. I enjoy a good fight regardless of the weight, regardless of the gender. If they’re good, they’re going to put on a good, exciting, entertaining performance and I’m going to watch it. There are a ton of girls who do that. I don’t know where everyone is getting this misconception that I’m against women’s MMA cause I’m not.”