Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight talents Kevin Holland and Kyle Daukaus will go to war this weekend (Sat., Oct. 2, 2021) at UFC Vegas 38 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Holland was the arguable “Fighter Of The Year” in 2020, winning five bouts with four stoppages to establish himself as a top contender. Unfortunately, his pair of fights this year have completely eliminated any momentum, as we’ve all spent 50 minutes watching Holland struggle with his opponent’s wrestling. Daukaus, meanwhile, is much better than his 1-2 UFC record implies. He’s shown a well-rounded skill set in his three trips to the Octagon, but he’s had the misfortune of facing really tough opposition right from the start ... a trend that continues versus Holland.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Ronaldo Souza (UFC 256), Darren Stewart (UFC Vegas 11), Joaquin Buckley (UFC Vegas 6), Gerald Meerschaert (UFC on ESPN 2), Anthony Hernandez (UFC on ESPN 8)
Key Losses: Derek Brunson (UFC Vegas 22), Marvin Vettori (UFC Vegas 23), Brendan Allen (UFC on ESPN 6), Thiago Santos (UFC 227)
Keys to Victory: Holland is not a bad fighter because he lost to a pair of Top Five-ranked contenders. “Trailblazer” remains a highly dangerous knockout artist with some funky grappling, and he has the physical tools to give any Middleweight contender problems.
Hopefully, his additional wrestling training with Daniel Cormier will indeed prove the solution to his takedown woes. If Holland can keep this one standing, he’s very likely to return to the win column in style.
Holland is at his best when firing long, straight punches down the middle. Daukaus is closer to Holland’s stature than most Middleweights, but he’s still a touch hittable at range. Given Holland’s 81-inch reach and natural power, a stiff one-two combination down the middle landing clean and dramatically changing the fight seems likely.
All Holland has to do is give himself every opportunity to land those strikes. If he can stay off the fence and use strikes to scare Daukaus away from the clinch, Holland puts himself in great position to land heavy punches.
Key Wins: Dustin Stoltzfus (UFC 255), Michael Lombardo (Contender Series 2019)
Key Losses: Phil Hawes (UFC Vegas 26), Brendan Allen (UFC Vegas 4)
Keys to Victory: Daukaus has shown good skill in each of his UFC fights, particularly his debut, which saw him nearly upset the far more established Allen. Still, eight of Daukaus’ victories came via submission, so it’s pretty clear what his default strategy is.
Some nice moments on his feet aside, it’s abundantly obvious that Daukaus needs takedowns to win this fight. Fortunately, Daukaus has demonstrated the ability to transition between the body lock and double leg that has recently given Holland so much trouble along the cage.
In this match up, there’s really no need for subtlety. Holland wants to strike, while Daukaus wants to wrestle — you know it, I know it, and the fighters certainly are aware! Daukaus isn’t going to catch Holland off-guard with his takedown attempts, so why waste time (and potentially get cracked) doing much else?
At the first opportunity, Daukaus should change levels into his shot and remain glued to Holland. If he can drag him down early, Daukaus stands a fair chance at dominating this fight.
This is kind of an odd fight.
Holland is an established Top 10 fighter looking to rebound, so a step back in competition makes sense. Should he really be fighting an unranked opponent coming off a loss though? It’s a major shift for Holland, yet still a fairly dangerous fight given Daukaus’ grappling expertise.
“Trailblazer” better win or else he’s going to plummet down the Middleweight ladder.
The fight puts Daukaus in an even weirder position. If he wins, it’s the biggest victory of his career, one that could score him a ranking. However, a loss would put Daukaus’ UFC record at 1-3, and that’s often grounds for release. I would hope UFC is smart and fair enough to consider the circumstances here, but ... would it shock anyone if the promotion was not?
At UFC Vegas 38, Kevin Holland and Kyle Daukaus will duel in the co-main event. Which man earns the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 38 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 on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
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