UFC Columbus: Blaydes Looks to Defend Standing While Daukaus Takes Second Chance

Curtis Blaydes UFC
Curtis Blaydes, UFC 266 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Chris Daukaus will look to capitalize on a second chance to leapfrog the rankings while Curtis Blaydes will look to maintain his position at UFC Columbus.

At one of the most tumultuous times in the UFC heavyweight division, perennial title contender Curtis Blaydes finds himself in a high risk situation.  “Razor” has posted an impressive 15-3 mark as a professional and his resume houses names like Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, Alexander Volkov, and others.  Depending on how you read the division, Blaydes is one of the top three fighters in the weight class whose blend of size, striking, and grappling is enough to beat anyone on any given night.  And yet, Saturday is seen by many as a lateral move at best with a victory.

While a big fight is not out of the question later this year, he must first hold serve against the more unproven Daukaus.  The Philadelphia native seeks his biggest career victory and first over a top five opponent.  As the division rolls along and names like Stipe Miocic, Tai Tuivasa, Ciryl Gane, and potentially Jon Jones all seek dance partners, Blaydes needs a victory to stay in the mix.  An impressive stoppage of Daukaus would do exactly that, but more than any other time in the division he can not avoid a critical setback.

Philadelphia’s Chris Daukaus has been here recently.  Last December, Daukaus rode a five fight win-streak into his first UFC main event with the opportunity to make his first career breakthrough.  That night made it appear as if the 32 year-old contender was simply not ready as he fell in brutal fashion, as many have, to the promotion’s all-time knockout leader Derrick Lewis.  Though many expected Daukaus to work his way back to a high profile bout, the cancellation of the previous UFC Columbus headliner has led to a second chance at a career changing victory as Blaydes accepted the bout.

The disadvantage of the bout is that it becomes a double-edged sword.  While there is plenty to gain, a second straight loss to a top-ranked opponent would definitely make it appear as if he is not at the level.  Considering only the division’s top fighters have ever bested Blaydes, it is a tall order to be sure.  However, Daukaus is not a contender without seasoning as he has veterans such as Shamil Abdurakhimov, Aleksei Oleinik, and Parker Porter on his resume.

Stylistically, movement is the key to a Daukaus upset against the well-rounded Blaydes.  Blaydes does his best work when he is able to control the center of the Octagon and pick his spots to come in or work for takedowns and Daukaus will need to use plenty of lateral movement to keep “Razor” from settling in.  Blaydes, by comparison, should look to push forward and crowd Daukaus against the fence where his offense will be more neutralized and he can look for opportunities to use his physicality and full arsenal.

The winner of the bout has any number of options to choose from, with the likes of Tom Aspinall or Tai Tuivasa also being potential opponents for the winner.  That said, the state of the division gives reason to believe that most of the top five will not make a move until it is determined who will compete for an interim title or in a title eliminator in the absence of reigning champion Francis Ngannou.


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