Knockout artist, Chris Daukaus, will duel with talented wrestler, Curtis Blaydes, this Saturday (March 26, 2022) at UFC Columbus inside Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
It was just about four months ago that Daukaus received his well-earned step up in competition, a main event slot opposite Derrick Lewis. Unfortunately for Daukaus, challenging a member of the Top 5 ended poorly, as Lewis wasted little time in overwhelming him with pure punching power (watch highlights). Surprisingly, Daukaus is being given a second shot rather than a step back in competition. Blaydes is a very different fighter than Lewis, but he’s highly talented and hugely difficult for just about everyone in the division. In his second main event slot, Daukaus is really being forced to sink-or-swim.
Let’s take a closer look at his skill set:
Daukaus’ quickness and fleet-footedness really makes his stand out from his peers at Heavyweight. He moves very well, circling the cage before suddenly bursting forward with a combination. Still, despite his prolific finishing rate, Daukaus doesn’t do anything terribly outside of the norm from a technical standpoint. He’s an example of the fundamentals being applied well by a quality athlete who feints actively, and the results largely speak for themselves.
At distance, the one-two combination 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 one-two 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. In addition, he’ll try to use his footwork to gain an angle before firing away.
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, and he was doing good work to the lead leg of Derrick Lewis as well.
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.
What went wrong in the bout vs. “The Black Beast?” Not a whole lot, in truth. Daukaus was the sharper man early, landing a couple right hands at distance in addition to some punishing low kicks. When his back touched the fence, however, Lewis connected with a single left hook that rattled him.
Daukaus smartly clinched and recovered, but the second he tried to initiate his own offense, Lewis slept him with a right. The margin for error at Heavyweight is thin, particularly against the sport’s leading knockout artist.
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.
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!
Still just 32 years of age, Daukaus doesn’t suck just because he’s the latest man to get clipped by Derrick Lewis. He’s fast and powerful on the feet, and this bout versus Blaydes should prove an excellent opportunity to gain insight into his ground game.
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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