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UFC Fight Night 166 Best Bet: Curtis Blaydes

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Curtis Blaydes XFO 51

Curtis Blaydes secures a takedown against Lorenzo Hood at XFO 51. (Photo Credit: Herb Staten/Scales Off Media)

UFC Fight Night 166 goes down Saturday, January 25 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. Today we’re taking a look at the best bet for this event and what I consider to be a super-lock: the destruction of Junior Dos Santos by the hands — and likely elbows — of Curtis Blaydes.

Blaydes is the undisputed takedown king of the UFC heavyweight division, holding the record for most takedowns in UFC heavyweight history with 45. That’s more than Cain, more than Randy, and more than any heavyweight to ever compete in the UFC. While Blaydes can now be considered a UFC veteran, he is still very young. He will turn just 29 in February. He’s got plenty of years to add that to total and possibly make it insurmountable.

UFC Fight Night 166: Blaydes vs. Dos Santos

In his last fight against Shamil Abdurakhimov at UFC 242, Blaydes scored five takedowns before finishing the fight in the middle of the second round. He landed more takedowns than Abdurakhimov landed strikes in that fight, 5-3. He went to a decision with Justin Willis in March last year, scoring seven takedowns over three rounds. Willis could land just two significant strikes in the entire bout. Simply put, strikers are wary of engaging with Blaydes lest they end up on their back. That’s likely to happen no matter what strategy his opponents employ.

Dos Santos is a former UFC champion and he’s been adept at turning away takedowns throughout his career. But the majority of Cigano’s fights have come against strikers. Two of his last three opponents — Francis Ngannou and Tai Tuivasa — have never even landed a takedown in the UFC. Cain Velasquez, who Blaydes passed to obtain the heavyweight takedown record, took Dos Santos down 11 times in their first fight, and two more times in the rematch. Dos Santos is just 6-5 in the UFC since that first fight against Cain, and he’s suffered four knockout losses during that time.

Dos Santos will also turn 36 a few days after this fight. While that’s not ancient, especially for the heavyweight division, this is not the Cigano we saw during his title run. Blaydes is younger and stronger and he will get Cigano to the mat. Once that happens it’s going to be curtains. Blaydes is on his way to a title shot sooner or later, and Cigano will not be the one to throw a wrench in the works.

Blaydes is currently a -245 favorite — and that’s money in the bank. That’s also your UFC Fight Night 166 Best Bet!

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is a former TV producer who turned to new media in 2005, and he is the co-founder and editor of Chicago's MMA. He is also the play-by-play announcer for the XFO. His work has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided and more.

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