Las Vegas, NV — Heavyweight Chris Daukaus gets his star turn this weekend at UFC Vegas 45.
Daukaus (12-3) tops the final UFC card of 2021 against Derrick Lewis, a fight that could land him in the upper echelon of the promotion’s heavyweight rankings. That has brought with it a different set of responsibilities — but Daukaus is taking it all in stride.
“It’s definitely different in a lot of ways, but it’s awesome,” the 32-year-old told media outlets including Cageside Press during Wednesday’s UFC Vegas 45 media day. “Obviously I have more media obligations and things to do, but this is something that I wanted, this is something that is every fighter’s dream — to main event a UFC card. So why not? It would have been a little better if it was a Pay-per-View, but we’ll talk about that later.”
The pace at which he has ascended to main event status has come as a surprise, admitted Daukaus. “The pace in which it has actually happened is super surprising to me. I didn’t think this was going to happen. But when you’re fighting people like Derrick Lewis, obviously people are going to want to see that, so what better spot are they going to put you in than the main event?”
It also feels like Daukaus finally has the sort of hype and respect on his name that a fighter like Ciryl Gane garnered. Both men were paired up with ranked opponents in the promotion in four fights or less. Of course, Daukaus clarified that he doesn’t see it as hype.
“I wouldn’t say hype, hype is kind of like made up. I just think I’m real. This is real. This is what people don’t realize,” he stated. “I’m a little smaller for the heavyweight division, and then once I get in there and I’m starting to touch people up, they realize ‘this was a bad idea.'”
That said, Daukaus went on to add that he’s expecting a similar push to the one Gane has had. “And we’ll see what happens and how I truly run with that opportunity.” He also shed light into who he sees as the future of the weight class. “There’s really three of us who I only see fighting for the rest of the heavyweight division. Four. It’ll be myself, Francis [Ngannou] could be in there, Ciryl, and Tom Aspinall. And I think those are the top names in the division going forward for at least the next five to ten years. So if I have to fight each of those gentleman three times— I don’t want to, but I’ll do it.”
Ahead of a fight with a powerful foe like Lewis, Daukaus said there was never any question as to if he was ready.
“I’m ready for anyone in the division, it could have been Francis or Ciryl for a belt. I’m ready for any of them, it’s just about game planning. I’m ready to go. There was never any question about whether I was ready to handle this or able to handle any of this. I’m 100% in, I’m ready to go.”
Daukaus added that he’s trained alongside a fighter with comparable power to Lewis, which appears to have his confidence high. “I’m not concerned with anything. They should be concerned with me, I’m not concerned with them.” Having said that, he’s also not taking Derrick Lewis lightly, Daukaus went on to say. “I don’t think anyone should.”
Which is why he’s not looking past Lewis to thoughts of rankings and future match-ups.
“My sole focus is Derrick. No one knows what the hell is going on with the heavyweight elite, the top three people,” Daukaus suggested. “You’ve got Francis and Ciryl fighting in January, and then you don’t know if there’s going to be an immediate rematch. You don’t know what Stipe [Miocic]’s doing, if Stipe’s holding out for a title shot, you don’t know what he’s doing. And then friggin’ Jon Jones, his name always gets brought up, but that dude hasn’t fought in four years or however long [it’s been since] he’s fought. So I’m not holding my breath for him either.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 45 media day appearance from Chris Daukaus above. More coverage from the event, which takes place this Saturday, December 18, 2021 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, can be found below.