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After four victories in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, including one over Mark Hunt, American Kickboxing Academy standout Justin Willis has found himself in the division’s top 10. He now has a chance to move even closer up the ranks by beating current No. 4, Curtis Blaydes.
Between the two stocky heavyweights, Blaydes has the deeper resume, having faced the likes of Hunt, Francis Ngannou, Alistair Overeem and Alexey Oleynik. But “Big Pretty” remains unfazed.
At UFC Fight Night 148 on Saturday, he will try to put his name in the map and add more to his career-defining numbers.
2: Recorded amateur fights and went 1-1. Willis lost to Brian Stevenson by TKO at an event called AFP: The Arena 10 and defeated Steve Dickey via unanimous decision at Strikeforce: Diaz Vs. Noons 2.
20: Months removed from that amateur fight in Strikeforce, Willis turned pro. “Big Pretty” didn’t have the best start, however, as he was stopped by Henry Solis by TKO at 4:32 in an event called ROF 43: Bad Blood.
5: Fights before getting signed by the UFC. He amassed a record of 4-1, with a victory over New England-based Brazilian native Juliano Coutinho at WSOF 31.
52: Significant strikes landed on James Mulheron in his Octagon debut. Willis also scored three takedowns on his fellow UFC newcomer to earn a unanimous decision victory and get past those first-fight Octagon jitters.
1: Round needed to tally his first stoppage in the UFC. Willis battered Allen Crowder until a left hook caused Crowder to hit the canvas at the 2:33 mark. With the victory, Willis snapped his opponent’s four-fight winning run.
76: Significant strikes as opposed to Chase Sherman’s 69 at UFC Fight Night 128. All three judges scored the bout 29-28 to give Willis another unanimous decision win.
59: Significant strikes against Hunt. Willis frustrated the respected veteran at UFC Fight Night 142 in what was the last bout of Hunt’s UFC contract. In the end, Willis earned the nods of all three judges. Hunt, for his part, could only land 19 significant strikes.
10: Rounds spent inside the Octagon. As aforementioned, Willis owns a first-round stoppage in the UFC. All his other bouts ended via decision.
4: Wins by knockout. The heavy-hitting AKA representative stopped James Kirby, Yusuke Kawaguchi, Coutinho and Crowder by KO or TKO.
60: Percent striking accuracy in UFC competition. Willis landed 209 out of the 347 significant strikes he threw inside the Octagon.
67: Percent takedown accuracy in UFC competition. He has attempted a total of six takedowns, completing four of them. Willis scored one on Sherman and three on Mulheron.
31: Years of age. Willis was born on July 9, 1987 in East Palo Alto, California. He played football in high school and in college at San Jose State University where he graduated with a degree in sociology.