UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus Predictions
Curtis Blaydes vs. Chris Daukaus
Blaydes has come close to a heavyweight title shot twice in his UFC run so far, with his latest attempt being foiled at the final hurdle when he was KO’d by Derrick Lewis, but he’s since bounced back with a decision win against Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
Blaydes is a well-rounded fighter who is particularly effective on the mat thanks to his strong wrestling punctuated by brutally effective ground-and-pound. Blaydes is also a solid striker, but has now come off second-best against two of the heaviest power punches in the sport in Francis Ngannou (twice) and the aforementioned Lewis.
In Daukaus he faces another dangerous striker who has claimed 11 of his 12 carries victories via either KO or TKO, including all four of his UFC wins to date. Daukaus isn’t as big and physically imposing as Ngannou or Lewis and doesn’t have their power, but his speed, timing and boxing technique are proving to be a potent combination in the division thus far, although like Blaydes, he too fell victim to ‘The Black Beast’ via KO in his last fight.
It would certainly be in Blaydes best interests to get this fight to the mat sooner rather than later, and safely making his entries without getting caught by Daukaus quick, accurate punches will be a key factor here as it’s cost him dearly in the past. Blaydes has the speed to be able to cope with Daukaus though and I think he will have success getting him down, where his size and technique will give his opponent problems on the mat, leading to a second round ground and pound TKO stoppage.
Prediction: Curtis Blaydes to win by TKO in Rd2.
Joanne Wood vs. Alexa Grasso
It’s been a bit of a struggle for Wood in the Octagon of late, having now lost three of her last four fights, while Grasso has settled in well after moving up to flyweight, notching up two wins in a row.
Wood has always been a technically well-versed muay thai striker who nicely mixes elbows and knees into her frequent striking combinations. She’s never really been much of an athlete though, so she relies more on grit, determination and experience than explosiveness and power to get the job done, and at 35 is no longer in her prime. Meanwhile, she can mix in the occasion takedown, but more seasoned grapplers have been able to get the better of her on the mat and she’s been submitted four times during her UFC run.
At 28, Grasso seems to finally be fulfilling her early promise after an underwhelming start to her time in the UFC. Grasso is a slick boxer with good movement on the feet who should have a significant speed advantage over Wood, but doesn’t have much in the way of stopping power, and in fact has yet to secure a stoppage win during her 5-3 run in the promotion so far.
Grasso is also a solid grappler too and so she won’t be concerned about any potential mat work that may occur in this particular match-up.
Overall I feel like this is Grasso’s time and she’ll be able to beat Wood to the punch and avoid too much damage in return to secure a decision win.
Prediction: Alexa Grasso to win by decision.
Askar Askarov vs. Kai Kara-France
Askarov remains undefeated in his 14-fight career so far including recent wins over Alexandre Pantoja and Joseph Benavidez, while Kara-France is coming off two first round finishes via KO and TKO against Rogerio Bontorin and Cody Garbrandt respectively.
Askarov is certainly the more well-rounded of the two fighters here as his striking is improving over time, though his ground game is certainly his strongest asset with excellent wrestling and a strong arsenal of submissions at his disposal.
Kara-France is a dangerous man on the feet though with his boxing ability, speed and proven finishing power giving him the edge in the stand-up department.
Askarov can hold his own to an extent on the feet though, certainly long enough to set up his takedown attempts and I think his advantage on the mat is going to be too much for Kara-France to overcome, leading to a decision win that’ll extend Askarov’s unbeaten record to 15-0.
Prediction: Askar Askarov to win by decision.
Matt Brown vs. Bryan Barberena
At 41-years-old it remains to be seen how much longer Brown can continue to compete, but last time the veteran showed he’s still a threat by shrugging off two losses in a row with a second round KO finish against Dhiego Lima. Now he goes up against the 32-year-old Barberena, who continues to have a mixed bag of results in the UFC, having gone 7-6 so far.
Brown has always been a tough-as-nails competitor who has been able to outlast many an opponent with his hard-hitting muay thai striking and durability. Age catches up to everybody though and he suffered some bad losses a few years ago that left him with concussion issues for a while, and flirted with the idea of retiring at that stage, before ultimately resisting the urge. He fights at a more measured pace these days and doesn’t have his old energy reserves, but he certainly makes his strikes count when he does throw which continues to make him a serious threat.
Like Brown, Barberena is a fighter who always welcomes a full-blooded striking battle and he has generally been pretty rugged and durable, though perhaps not quite so much as before he suffered back-to-back TKO losses to Vicente Luque and Randy Brown in 2019. Meanwhile, back surgery and life-threatening ruptured arteries in recent years also seems to have taken a toll on him. Nonetheless, while he’s not quite as heavy-handed as Brown, he should still be the more active of the two on the feet and push the pace more.
Both men to have some grappling ability, but I think this one is more likely to play out on the feet with both men fancying their chances of finishing the other. I’m definitely torn on this pick, but at their best Brown is the bigger threat, and given that they’ve both seen better days I still think he might be able to make his power advantage count to find a TKO finish here.
Prediction: Matt Brown to win by TKO in Rd2.
Aleksei Oleinik vs. Ilir Latifi
Another ageing veteran who has amassed a whopping 76 fights over the course of his career, the 44-year-old Oleinik is in dire need of a win after losing his last three fights, while the 38-year-old Latifi is so far 1-1 since moving up to the heavyweight ranks.
Two of those three recent losses for Oleinik came via TKO, making nine losses via strikes in total for his career, and that’s undoubtedly going to be a concern heading into this one as the powerfully built Latifi swings hard for the fences, albeit not with much in the way of volume. Also, even although he’s a former 205lb’er, Latifi is actually heavier than his opponent here, with Oleinik being relatively light by heavyweight standards.
That being said, Oleinik does have a 4″ height and 7″ reach advantage to work with and is not a bad striker, but he’s slowing down with age and becoming more fragile, so it’s risky for him to engage there for extended periods.
Of course Oleinik’s gameplan has always been to get the fight to the mat anyway as he’s a predatory grappler with a serious knack for delivering submission finishes, securing no less than a staggering 46 wins in that fashion over the years.
The problem is that the very compact and strong Latifi is very difficult to get down and that will force a stand-up battle in which ‘The Sledgehammer’ will be throwing fight-ending bombs, leading to a first round KO finish.
Prediction: Ilir Latifi to win by KO in Rd1.
Marc Diakiese vs. Viacheslav Borshchev
Diakiese entered the UFC with a perfect 9-0 record back in 2016, but despite a good start he’s faltered since and has only claimed two wins from his last seven visits to the Octagon. Meanwhile, Borschev claimed a KO win on the Contender Series to book his spot in the promotion and has since repeated the feat with another KO finish in his official debut in January.
Diakiese caught the eye early in his UFC run as he’s a flashy striker with good speed and athleticism and he’ll also have a 4″ reach advantage here, but when he’s gone up against other high-level stand-up technicians who don’t give him time and space to unleash the full extent of his offensive arsenal then he has found the going more difficult.
Borschev could potentially be that kind of fighter as he’s got a strong background in striking with experience competing in both boxing and kickboxing before turning to MMA. He doesn’t have the most extensive record in the cage though, just 6-1 overall spanning over three years, so it still remains to be seen how he’ll do against a stiffer level of opposition, but so far he’s shown off a very technical stand-up game, good volume and fight-ending power, though his defense isn’t perfect.
Diakiese is the more well-rounded fighter of the two in terms of his mat work, though it’s questionable if he’ll seek to use it here. If he doesn’t I think this could be a real battle on the feet, and I feel Borschev could well hold the edge in terms of technical ability and punching power. We’ve seen Diakiese hurt before, if not finished, and I think this could be the time with Borschev’s forward momentum leading to a second round finish.
Prediction: Viacheslav Borshchev to win by TKO in Rd2.
UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
Neil Magny vs. Max Griffin
Sara McMann vs. Karol Rosa
David Dvořák vs. Matheus Nicolau
Luis Saldaña vs. Bruno Souza
Batgerel Danaa vs. Chris Gutierrez
Jennifer Maia vs. Manon Fiorot
Aliakhab Khizriev vs. Denis Tiuliulin
Ross Cole is one of the most prolific mixed martial arts writers in the world, having written more than 17,000 MMA news stories for MMA Insight, which he founded in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts, and reaching millions of die-hard MMA fans in the process.
You can read more of Ross’s work at MMAInsight.com.