Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will continue its world tour this weekend with the UFC Columbus: “Blaydes vs. Daukaus” mixed martial arts (MMA) event scheduled for this Sat. night (March 26, 2022) inside Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The original ESPN/ESPN+ headliner was supposed to be Jan Blachowicz vs. Aleksandar Rakic; however, a late injury put an end to those plans last month and left the promotion no choice but to elevate the heavyweight banger between Curtis Blaydes and Chris Daukaus.
Before we dive into the main and co-main events, which includes the flyweight showdown between battle-tested veteran Joanne
CalderWood and 125-pound rising star Alexa Grasso, check out Patrick Stumberg’s preliminary card breakdowns here and here. In addition, fighter-turned-writer Andrew Richardson did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the UFC Columbus main card right here.
For the latest “Blaydes vs. Daukaus” odds and betting lines courtesy of our fiscal friends over at Draft Kings go here.
Let’s get to work.
265 lbs.: Curtis Blaydes vs. Chris Daukaus
Curtis “Razor” Blaydes
Record: 15-3, 1 NC | Age: 31 | Betting line: -365
Wins: 10 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 5 DEC | Losses: 3 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’4“ | Reach: 80” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.44 | Striking accuracy: 51%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 1.65 | Striking Defense: 59%
Takedown Average: 6.27 (53% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 33%
Current Ranking: No. 4 | Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Record: 12-4 | Age: 32 | Betting line: +280
Wins: 11 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: 3 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 76” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 7.71 | Striking accuracy: 53%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.51 | Striking Defense: 61%
Takedown Average: 0.00 (0% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 100%
Current Ranking: No. 8 | Last fight: Knockout loss to Derrick Lewis
Curtis Blaydes and Chris Daukaus have something in common: both heavyweights got KTFO in recent fights by record-setting knockout machine Derrick Lewis. What sets Blaydes apart is that we’ve already seen him rebound, courtesy of last September’s unanimous devision victory over fellow 265-pound bruiser Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Blaydes scored a takedown in every round of their 15-minute affair which pushed his UFC total to 62. That’s good enough for No. 10 on the all-time list (former welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre is still tops with 90). Blaydes has already gone on record to (unapologetically) remind fans that his goal is to win and absorb as little damage as possible, which is why “Razor” will always favor his wrestling whenever possible and to his credit, Blaydes averages more than six takedowns per fight. In addition to Rozenstruik, the former NJCAA National Champion out of Harper College defeated heavyweight knockout artists like Alistair Overeem, Mark Hunt, and Junior dos Santos, just to name a few, so his losses to Lewis and Francis Ngannou (twice) had more to do with the skill sets of “The Black Beast” and “The Predator” and less to do with Blaydes’ ability to take a punch. You’ll also notice “Razor” boasts an elevated striking average but that comes from his knack of taking opponents to the floor and smashing them from top position, no doubt a part of this weekend’s gameplan in Columbus.
Daukaus, like his younger brother (and UFC welterweight) Kyle, has been a pleasant surprise in a division desperately in need of fresh faces, one of many reasons fight fans have been rushing to support other up-and-coming sluggers, like Tai Tuivasa and Tom Aspinall. I’m not sure the knockout loss to Lewis does much to damage the trajectory of Daukaus heading into this fight because “The Black Beast” has made a career out of knocking people stiff. At the same time, all of the questions we had before the Lewis fight still remain, and that’s largely because Daukaus has yet to secure a victory over anyone currently ranked in the Top 10. Beating Rozenstruik or maybe even Alexander Volkov would have given us a bit more insight into whether or not the Philadelphian is capable of running with the big dogs. We know Dauakus can bang; he’s already sporting 11 knockouts in 12 wins and has three performance bonuses to his credit. At the same time, he’s only seen two takedown attempts in five bouts under the UFC banner, one from Lewis and the other from Alexey Oleinik. As seasoned as they are inside the cage, they simply aren’t on the level of Blaydes, who stands 6’4” and weighed in 30 pounds heavier than Daukaus when they shared a scale ahead of UFC 266 last September. That’s a lot of weight to have barreling at you inside a steel cage.
Daukaus is a dangerous fighter with legitimate knockout power. In his favor is the fact that UFC Columbus — thanks to the dissolution of Jan Blachowicz vs. Aleksandar Rakic — will afford him 25 minutes to land the killing blow. That’s a pretty sizable window and against (almost) any other opponent I might be more inclined to side with Daukaus. I just can’t expect him to succeed where other power-punching heavyweights like Hunt and Rozenstruik failed. It may not be pretty, but Blaydes is going to use his 80-inch reach to set up the takedown, then spend the rest of each round in cruise control. Yes, Daukuas has a jiu-jitsu black belt under William Martinez Jr., but I don't expect it to neutralize the suffocating attack from a monster like Blaydes.
Prediction: Blaydes def. Daukaus by unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Joanne Wood vs. Alexa Grasso
Joanne “Jo Jo” Wood
Record: 15-7 | Age: 35 | Betting line: +190
Wins: 5 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 9 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 4 SUB, 3 DEC
Height: 5’6“ | Reach: 65” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 6.71 | Striking accuracy: 50%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 4.55 | Striking Defense: 52%
Takedown Average: 1.57 (55% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 63%
Current Ranking: No. 7 | Last fight: Submission loss to Taila Santos
Record: 13-3 | Age: 28 | Betting line: -235
Wins: 4 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 9 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 5’5“ | Reach: 66” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.96 | Striking accuracy: 43%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.61 | Striking Defense: 64%
Takedown Average: 0.28 (40% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 60%
Current Ranking: No. 11 | Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Maycee Barber
Joanne Wood, who shed a few letters after marrying Syndicate MMA coach John Wood, cut her teeth on Season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) and quickly became a fan favorite thanks to her sassy Scottish accent and go-for-broke style inside the cage. Wood was bounced from the reality show tournament in the second round, falling to Rose Namajunas by way of submission, but hung around and won her TUF 20 Finale fight opposite Korean bruiser Seo Hee Ham, who may have the greatest nickname in all of MMA: “Hamderlei Silva.” It looked as though Wood was on her way to becoming a major player at 115 pounds and when that failed to pass, “JoJo” jumped to flyweight to compete where her body performed at its peak. It pains me to report that a change in scenery did little to improve her trajectory and heading into UFC Columbus, Wood is coming off two straight losses and now stands at 7-7 inside the Octagon. More concerning is the fact that Wood turns 36 later this year so I don’t think it’s outrageous to suggest that what you see is what you get; meaning, don’t expect any future title runs or bookie-busting upsets from the spirited Scot.
Like Wood, Alexa Grasso is also a product of Invicta FC but managed to bypass the TUF experiment and go straight to her Octagon debut at UFC Fight Night 98 back in late 2016. The former strawweight rewarded that decision from matchmakers by outworking Heather Jo Clark across all three rounds, but stumbled in her follow-up fight against the rough-and-tumble Felice Herrig. In that regard, I think you can draw comparisons between Grasso and Wood based on their maddening lack of consistency. Grasso is 5-3 in UFC and coming off her first two-fight win streak since jumping out to a 9-0 start in professional MMA. That’s what makes this fight so important, at least in terms of her 125-pound future. In order to distinguish herself from the likes of Wood — and similar hot-and-cold flyweights like Andrea Lee, Cynthia Calvillo, etc. — then Grasso needs a breakout performance. I’m more inclined to forgive losses to Carla Esparza and Tatiana Suarez, as the former is an ex-champion ranked No. 2 in the world while the latter is an undefeated smashing machine who got Milk Carton’d after reconstructive knee surgery. It’s also worth noting that Grasso is seven years younger than Wood at 28 and just now entering her competitive prime.
Wood is well-rounded and has the skills to compete at the highest level, but for some reason has trouble putting it all together once she steps foot inside the cage, which seems to suggests “JoJo” hasn’t mastered the mental aspect of fighting. That’s not a knock against her, as it’s not uncommon among elite athletes in any sport, let alone one that requires you to absorb punches from a trained killer. As with every fight, Wood remains the sentimental pick. But when you match her up against a hungry flyweight like Grasso, it’s not hard to envision a scenario where “JoJo” doesn’t find her way out of first gear. Expect a clean, dominant performance from the Jalisco-born fighter that will likely go the distance. Wood may not be the contender we wanted her to be, but she’s still tough as nails and has the heart of a lion.
Prediction: Grasso def. Wood by unanimous decision
Remember, the rest of the UFC Columbus main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Columbus fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Columbus news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archives here and here. For the updated and finalized “Blaydes vs. Daukaus” fight card and ESPN/ESPN+ lineup click here.