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Fighter on Fighter: Breaking down UFC Vegas 45’s Chris Daukaus

UFC 266: Abdyrakhimov v Daukaus Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images

Rising Heavyweight contender, Chris Daukaus, will attempt to take out famed knockout artist, Derrick Lewis, this Saturday (Dec. 18, 2021) at UFC Vegas 45 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ahead of this weekend, there will certainly be a fair amount of fight fans drawn in by the allure of “The Black Beast,” only to be asking themselves, “Who the f—k is Chris Daukaus?”

It’s perhaps a fair question. Though this main event match will be his fifth UFC fight, Daukaus has only actually fought for a little over eight minutes inside the Octagon. Most of those fights came on the preliminary card, and though the results were spectacular, none of his previous wins came over particularly high-profile opponents.

In short, Lewis is a major step up in competition and profile. Before Daukaus gets his opportunity to raise his name, let’s first take a closer look at the good work he’s already done:

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Striking

Every once in a while, a fighter comes up the simply has a different level of hand speed than most of his peers. Daukaus fits in the category, a dangerous combination of unusual speed and classic Heavyweight power.

Case in point: 11 of his 12 wins come via knockout.

Despite his prolific finishing rate, Daukaus doesn’t do anything outside of the norm from a technical standpoint. Still, when the fundamentals are applied by a great athlete with good feints and composure, well, the results speak for themselves.

At distance, the 1-2 is Daukaus’ money combo (GIF). Even more specifically, it’s all about the right hand. Daukaus jabs fairly often, and they’re decent shots, but it’s very clear that his end goal is lining up that right. Given how quickly and accurately he can place the cross on the chin, it’s not hard to see why.

Of course, lots of Heavyweights have strong right hands. What separates Daukaus from the pack is that he can also build from it. For example, Daukaus does a nice job of pulling after his 1-2 then immediately returning fire. Often, he doesn’t just answer with a single shot (GIF). Instead, if Daukaus notices his opponent trying to back off from his unexpected counter, he’ll string together extended flurries of hooks, even switching stances as he advances to increase the power.

In general, Daukaus is smart with his flurries. He only really lets loose when his opponent is out of position or on the defensive, allowing him to more safely take risks.

Daukaus also builds off the right hand with his left hook in a couple of ways. Against Shamil Abdurakhimov, for example, Daukaus managed to first hurt his foe with a long left hook following a right hand to the body, catching his foe leaning back with his chin high. Meanwhile, against Rodrigo Nascimento, Daukaus merely showed the right hand to shift his weight and load up a leaping left hook (GIF). In both examples, Daukaus threw the hook with his thumb facing the floor, Russian-style.

Daukaus has shown some other good skill outside of his boxing. Against Parker Porter, for example, Daukaus took a couple solid low kicks before deciding to return the favor. Soon afterward, Daukaus was timing hard digs to the calf and thigh, hiding them behind punches well. More recently, Daukaus managed to floor Abdurakhimov with a well-timed low kick.

The other area Daukaus really excels is in the clinch. A natural result of his flurries is the collar-tie, and Daukaus will go to work immediately with hard knees or elbows over the top. Daukaus is at his best when able to really tie everything together fluidly, finishing a long combo with a sudden clinch knee or flurrying as his foe tries to pull out of his grasp.

Wrestling

Daukaus has yet to score a takedown inside the Octagon.

Defensively, Daukaus has only really been tested by Aleksei Oleinik and his weird brand of takedowns. After using a frame to prevent any sort of Ezekiel choke, Oleinik opted to drop down into a single leg attempt. From that position, Daukaus did well to keep pressure on the back of Oleinik’s head, preventing the Russian grappler from improving his position at all.

With his free hand, he reigned down shots until his foe abandoned the takedown.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Daukaus holds a jiu-jitsu black belt, but he’s never landed a submission nor even attempted one inside the Octagon, so that aspect of his game remains to be seen!

Conclusion

At 32 years of age, Daukaus has already risen to the No. 7 spot in the UFC rankings. If he’s able to take out a mainstay of the Top Five, it’s really time to get familiar with the Philadelphia-native, who is quickly proving himself one of Heavyweight’s best prospects.


Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 45 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 45: “Lewis vs. Daukaus” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.