This weekend sees the UFC head to Columbus, Ohio for their latest Fight Night card. While there may not be as raucous a crowd as last weekend’s event, the fights should be good at least.
UFC Fight Night: Curtis Blaydes vs. Chris Daukaus features an excellent heavyweight main event, as well as a number of additional intriguing bouts.
With plenty of fighters looking to climb the ladder this weekend, who will come out on top in the big fights?
Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Fight Night: Curtis Blaydes vs. Chris Daukaus.
#1. UFC heavyweight division: Curtis Blaydes vs. Chris Daukaus
Initially, this heavyweight bout wasn’t intended to be the headline fight. That spot would’ve gone to a nixed light-heavyweight clash between Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic.
Thankfully, its replacement still sees two of the UFC’s better heavyweights doing battle, as Curtis Blaydes is currently ranked at No.4, while Chris Daukaus is ranked at No.8. So which of these two outstanding big men will come out on top?
Interestingly, this fight pits a fighter coming off a win against one coming off a loss. The last time we saw Blaydes in action, he rebounded from a bad loss to Derrick Lewis by outpointing Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
While that fight wasn’t the best to watch, it still showed that ‘Razor’ is probably the best wrestler in the heavyweight division right now. It also marked his fifth win in his last six fights, the loss to Lewis being the lone anomaly.
Blaydes is not just a one-dimensional grappler, though. His hands have improved steadily over the years, to the point where he took out former champ Junior dos Santos standing in early 2020. His ground-and-pound also remains utterly devastating.
Does ‘Razor’ have any weaknesses? Sure. His cardio often doesn’t appear to be the best, as he was sucking in wind at the end of his five-round clash with Alexander Volkov in 2020. While his takedowns are near unstoppable, the fact that he’s willing to use them so often has, perhaps unfairly, gained him the reputation of a dull fighter.
Some might also argue that Blaydes’ chin isn’t the best, but realistically, there’s no shame in losing by knockout to Lewis and Francis Ngannou, particularly as prior to those losses, he’d absorbed shots from the likes of Mark Hunt and Alistair Overeem.
Daukaus is clearly far less proven than Blaydes. He debuted in the UFC in 2020 and picked up four impressive wins, all via TKO, but then fell pretty badly to Lewis last December.
The native of Philadelphia isn’t a huge heavyweight, but he’s well put together, has skills in all areas and is surprisingly fast, particularly with his boxing game.
The issue for him here, though, is clearly going to be how he deals with the takedown threat of Blaydes. It’s fair to say he’s never fought a wrestler as good as ‘Razor’. More to the point, Blaydes is likely to be the faster, more explosive athlete, too, and that’s not mentioning his size advantage.
Overall, this one just feels like Blaydes’ fight to lose. Even if Daukaus manages to stun him early, it’s unlikely that he’ll take him out in one shot. If that’s the case, then he’ll succumb to the takedown at some point and probably get smashed apart by the ground-and-pound of ‘Razor’.
The Pick: Blaydes via second-round TKO
#2. UFC women's flyweight division: Joanne Wood vs. Alexa Grasso
The speed at which current UFC flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko gobbles up challengers means that any fighter in her division who can win a handful of bouts in a row has a chance of earning a shot against her.
With that considered, while Joanne Wood (No.7) and Alexa Grasso (No.11) aren’t actually that highly ranked at 125 pounds, there’s still an outside chance that either woman could surge up the ladder, particularly as Shevchenko’s already beaten the UFC fighters ranked No.1 to No.4.
Despite this, it seems unlikely that Wood will be able to pull off such a run at this point. The popular Scottish fighter has lost three of her last four bouts in the octagon and at the age of 35, it’s hard to see ‘JoJo’ making a sudden surge in her skills.
Overall, she’s a solid kickboxer with dangerous ground skills, but as we’ve seen over her six-year octagon career, she struggles to really weather punishment, can be outworked down the stretch and also finds it hard to get off the bottom against strong takedown artists.
Grasso, on the other hand, is probably just about reaching her prime. At the age of 28, it once looked like she’d become a contender at 115 pounds, but her decision to move to flyweight in 2021 definitely appears to be the right one.
The native of Mexico has extremely fast hands and dangerous boxing skills. She’s somewhat underrated on the ground, too, being capable of landing takedowns and scrambling with the best of them.
Grasso’s big weakness is her lack of finishing skills – she hasn’t put an opponent away in eight fights in the octagon – but anyone who can outpoint Maycee Barber and Karolina Kowalkiewicz should be highly regarded.
Can Grasso put ‘JoJo’ away this weekend? Wood is definitely not the most durable fighter, but Grasso simply doesn’t seem to possess the power in her hands to really hurt her foes. With that said, her volume and boxing skills should still be enough to earn her a decision here.
The Pick: Grasso via decision
#3. UFC Fight Night: The Main Card
In the flyweight division, Askar Askarov takes on Kai Kara-France in what could easily be a title eliminator. Askarov is still unbeaten in the UFC at 3-0-1 and holds a draw with former champ Brandon Moreno. Kara-France, meanwhile, is coming off his epic KO of former bantamweight king Cody Garbrandt.
Theoretically, at least, this should come down to a simple question: Can Kara-France stop Askarov’s takedowns? If he can do that, then he should be able to outstrike the Dagestani to win.
However, thus far, nobody has prevented ‘The Bullet’ from taking them down. Given that ‘Don’t Blink’ has given up takedowns in some of his previous bouts, it doesn’t feel like he’ll be the first to do so. The pick is Askarov via decision.
In the welterweight division, veterans Matt Brown and Bryan Barberena should produce a true barnburner. Both men are quite happy brawling and will likely exchange until one man goes down.
It’s a hard one to pick, too. Brown is more offensively dangerous but Barberena is probably the more durable of the two. With that said, Barberena has never beaten anyone on Brown’s level, even though ‘The Immortal’ is past his prime. Therefore, Brown via TKO is the pick.
Finally, at heavyweight, Ilir Latifi faces Alexei Oleinik. This one is a battle of bulls and should come down to whether Latifi can prevent Oleinik from latching onto one of his submissions should the fight hit the ground.
‘The Sledgehammer’ is not the biggest heavyweight, but he hits very hard and is probably substantially faster than the older ‘Boa Constrictor’. If Oleinik can get the right position, then he can submit anyone in this division. However, overall, Latifi might be too powerful. The pick is Latifi via TKO.
#4. UFC Fight Night: The Prelims
Picks in bold
Women's flyweight: Jennifer Maia vs. Manon Fiorot
Welterweight: Neil Magny vs. Max Griffin
Lightweight: Marc Diakiese vs. Viacheslav Borschev
Women's bantamweight: Sara McMann vs. Karol Rosa
Bantamweight: Chris Gutierrez vs. Danaa Batgerel
Flyweight: Matheus Nicolau vs. David Dvorak
Featherweight: Luis Saldana vs. Bruno Souza
Middleweight: Aliaskhab Khizriev vs. Denis Tiuliulin