Curtis Blaydes and Chris Daukaus are out to remind everyone that UFC heavyweight supremacy is still in their sights. Blaydes vs. Daukaus headlines UFC Fight Night at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, this Saturday night.
Blaydes (15-3, 1 NC) has appeared primed for a breakout run on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, every time Blaydes builds momentum, he crashes face-first into a freight train. Stoppage losses to Francis Ngannou (twice) and Derrick Lewis have derailed Blaydes as a true contender and made him something of an afterthought among the heavyweight elite. Dismissing Blaydes is a mistake, though. “Razor” has the sharpest takedown and top grappling in the game and he’s always only a few tweaks away from making a play for the crown.
“We know he’s a very technical striker,” Blaydes said of Dauakus at media day. “He has nice, crisp boxing. Obviously, he has jiu-jitsu — he’s a black belt. So you’ve got to be prepared for whatever — heel hooks, knee bars, whatever type of craziness he might be trying to whip out. That’s the beauty of this division: Everyone’s a threat. There isn’t any heavyweight that you should take like, ‘He’s just a guy.’ It’s heavyweight. Any 250-pound man hits you in the face, it could be lights out. That’s enough for me to get my full attention.”
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Daukaus (12-4) came up short in his first major test against top-level UFC competition. He failed to make it out of the first round against Lewis, a litmus test in the division for those on the cusp of a title shot. It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire as Daukaus exchanges the division’s most prolific puncher for its most suffocating grappler. Daukaus is a well-rounded striker and a serious finishing threat. This is his chance to prove that he can keep step with other fresh heavyweight contenders like Tom Aspinall and Tai Tuivasa.
“I lost and I was down there. I was not really depressed but you’re down on yourself. You let yourself down. You feel like you let everyone who has been having your back for all these years, you let them all down. You let your training partners down. You let your wife down, everyone. It’s really not enjoying that feeling, but knowing that feeling, knowing what it feels like to be down there. Then, [you] use that as a driving force to never go back there,” Daukaus told reporters at the UFC Fight Night media day. “You literally can put anyone in a training camp and get them ready for a fight. It’s just the mental aspect that separates the good people from the greats. That’s the main thing people need to focus on.”
The undercard is littered with interesting bouts as the UFC returns to Ohio for the first time since 2016. A women’s flyweight clash between Joanne Wood and Alexa Grasso serves as the card’s co-main event. Plus, a flyweight contest in the men’s division could produce the next title challenger when Askar Askarov meets Kai Kara-France. Action brawlers Bryan Barberena and Matt Brown are set to throw down in the welterweight division. And heavyweights Ilir Latifi and Aleksei Oleinik meet in a featured contest.
Here’s the full fight card for UFC Fight Night with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook.
UFC Fight Night card, odds
|Curtis Blaydes -470||Chris Daukaus +360||Heavyweight|
|Alexa Grasso -240||Joanne Wood +200||Women’s flyweight|
|Bryan Barberena -110||Matt Brown -110||Welterweight|
|Askar Askarov -400||Kai Kara-France +310||Men’s flyweight|
|Ilir Latifi -210||Aleksei Oleinik +175||Heavyweight|
|Viacheslav Borshchev -155||Marc Diakiese +130||Lightweight|
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: March 26 | Start time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Nationwide Arena — Colombus, Ohio
Curtis Blaydes vs. Chris Daukaus: Blaydes and Daukaus both suffered brain-rattling losses to Lewis in the last calendar year. Fortunately, neither will have to contend with such otherworldly power on Saturday night. Blaydes has hovered just outside of title contention for what feels like an eternity. Meanwhile, Daukaus — unlike Aspinall this past weekend at UFC London — failed to capitalize on an opportunity to propel himself into the heavyweight elite. Blaydes pairs the most potent wrestling game at heavyweight with terrifying ground-and-pound elbows. Daukaus has crisp boxing combinations and an ability to land final blows with all four limbs. Experience should edge this out. Yes, Blaydes has been on the receiving end of more than one highlight-reel knockout, but those losses came exclusively against Ngannou and Lewis. Blaydes is serious business and has only been felled by punches that would snooze The Incredible Hulk. Blaydes also has far more experience going the distance. Daukaus’ longest UFC fight lasted just 6:23. Siding with size, experience and strength of competition seems like the safe bet. Blaydes TKO3
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