Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight hitters Curtis Blaydes and Chris Daukaus will clash TONIGHT (Sat., March 26, 2022) at UFC Columbus inside Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
By most metrics, Blaydes should be closing in on a title shot right about now. He’s been in the Top 5 for quite some time, matches up well with most of the other top contenders, and he’s still quite young at 31 years of age. Unfortunately, that upset loss to Derrick Lewis is holding him back, as is his wrestling-heavy approach. Daukaus knows a thing or two about getting socked by “The Black Beast,” too. His first main event slot a few months back ended poorly (watch highlights), but he’s being given a second chance here to assert himself into the title mix.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 15-3 (1)
Key Wins: Jairzinho Rozenstruik (UFC 266), Alexander Volkov (UFC on ESPN 11), Alistair Overeem (UFC 225), Junior dos Santos (UFC Fight Night 166), Mark Hunt (UFC 221), Shamil Abdurakhimov (UFC 242)
Key Losses: Francis Ngannou (UFC Fight Night 141, UFC Fight Night 86), Derrick Lewis (UFC Vegas 19)
Keys to Victory: Blaydes is genuinely one of the best fighters at Heavyweight, even if few people want to acknowledge it. He’s the only big man in the division capable of hustling for takedowns for 25 minutes if need be, and his kickboxing has come a long way in the last few years.
Ducking into strikes remains his Achilles’ heel, however.
Most match ups are straight forward for Blaydes ... and this one is no exception. “Razor” is going to wrestle, and once again, he faces a smaller man with a shorter reach. That’s going to make his distance game — which consists mostly of jabs, low kicks, and 1-1-2s — more respectable and allow him to control the flow of the fight until he finds a takedown entry.
Once Blaydes is consistently in on the shot, he’s rarely struggling. Per usual, the danger here is that Blaydes closes his eyes and shoots without setup, because Daukaus definitely has the striking experience and power to make him pay.
If he can avoid such an error, Blaydes is in the driver’s seat.
Key Wins: Shamil Abdurakhimov (UFC 266), Aleksei Oleinik (UFC Vegas 19), Parker Porter (UFC 252), Rodrigo Nascimento (UFC Fight Island 5)
Key Losses: Derrick Lewis (UFC Vegas 45), Azunna Anyanwu (CFFC 73)
Keys to Victory: Daukaus remains a quality prospect at Heavyweight. Only recently releasing his day job as a police officer and becoming a full-time fighter, the jiu-jitsu black belt has quick hands, as well as a good grasp of angles and counter punching.
Eleven of his wins come via knockout.
A majority of the time Blaydes gets cracked, it’s on his way in. He’s guilty of ducking into shots with his eyes low and also being a bit predictable with the jab. The first habit leaves him vulnerable to intercepting knees and uppercuts, while the second is how Francis Ngannou (among others) came over the top with a crushing right hand.
Obviously, Daukaus should be looking for those openings. In order for them to materialize, however, the Philadelphia-native has to be maintaining space and preventing wrestling exchanges. That’s no easy task, but it’s one that becomes a lot more feasible if Daukaus keeps his feet moving.
Historically, Daukaus has shown some nice low kicks at distance. In this fight, he’d be better off sticking more to the jab or at least taking that kick below the knee, because Blaydes is going to be looking to latch onto his leg.
One Heavyweight leaves this match up in the title mix.
Blaydes has been in the Top Five for a while now, and given Francis Ngannou’s injury and the chance he leaves UFC entirely, Blaydes’ position has never been better. Smashing Daukaus doesn’t necessarily raise his rank, but it starts building a new win streak and reminds the combat sports world of his presence. Hopefully, a main event win is enough to get Blaydes in the cage with someone like Ciryl Gane or Tom Aspinall.
On the other hand, Daukaus can pick up the biggest win of his career! He’s already in the Top 10, but knocking off No. 4 would certainly move him up the ladder a bit. Just as importantly, it helps wash away the Lewis loss, confirming that Daukaus is a contender and one of the best young Heavyweights on the planet.
At UFC Columbus, Curtis Blaydes and Chris Daukaus will battle in the main event. Which Heavyweight remains standing when the dust settles?
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 Columbus fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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