UFC Vegas 19: Chris Daukaus Says His Ground Game “Like a Hidden Gem”

Chris Daukaus will face off against a vastly more experienced opponent on Saturday night in the form of Aleksei Oleinik.

Their UFC Vegas 19 bout is one of four heavyweight tilts on the Fight Night card. It’s an important time for the heavyweight division, with several big fights throughout the month of February, plus several younger talents in action as well, all leading up to a heavyweight title fight in March.

“It’s exciting to have all the new blood in there. The heavyweight division for a lot of years has been stagnant with Stipe [Miocic]”, Daukaus (10-3) said during a virtual media day promoting the event this week. “But Stipe is a true champion, he’s one of the greatest.” Like many others, Daukaus is excited to watch the rematch between Miocic and Francis Ngannou.

Then there’s one of the other big names in the weight class: former light heavyweight champ Jon Jones. “As far as Jon Jones, that’s a business standpoint. Jon Jones is Jon Jones. It’s okay for me to accept the fact that he’s going to go right into a title shot. There’s really nothing I can say about that,” Daukaus said. “The only thing I can do is just continue to work, beat these high-level guys, and just prove that I should be in there with those guys. And that’s what I plan to do.”

The bonus in being on a card full of heavyweight fights is that Daukaus will get to do a bit of scouting. “I’m really excited to see the other heavyweights on the card just to see how the whole landscape of the heavyweight division unfolds within the next couple months, because a lot of us have fights scheduled.”

Heading into UFC Vegas 19, the focus has been on Oleinik, his experience — he has more fights than anyone not named Dan Severn, really — and his ground game. Which might be overlooking the fact that Daukaus has a black belt in BJJ himself. But he’s willing to take the blame as far as his ground game going unnoticed.

“In part that’s my fault. I haven’t showcased my skills on the ground. And mostly it’s because I prefer to punch people in the face. That’s just something I like to do,” he stated. “I like to keep that in my back pocket, I’d rather have people not know about that. So that when  we do go to the ground and I do submit this guy, or I do submit that guy, or I hit an awesome sweep or whatever, or I’m super heavy on top, people are going to be surprised.”

It won’t be surprising to himself or his coach, of course. But when it comes to his skill on the mat, “it’s like a hidden gem that I have.”

Daukaus arrived in the UFC last year alongside brother Kyle, who technically made it in a few months earlier. That puts the pair in an exclusive club of fighting brothers in the UFC, but coming up, there was no rivalry on who would make it first, Chris Daukaus revealed. “The ultimate goal was for both of us to make it. This is what we set out to do as a profession,” he explained.

Of course, “there was always rivalries in the rounds” in training, Daukaus noted. “But the ultimate goal was to get to this position, and to prove that we belong in each of our respective divisions, and to prove that we belong at the top of those divisions. We’re just going to keep doing that, and I honestly can’t wait til this fight. I get to take that one step closer to the top, and then when he fights, he’s going to be doing the same thing.”

Watch the full UFC Vegas 19 virtual media day scrum with Chris Daukaus above! The event takes place Saturday, February 20 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.