Kyle “D’Arce Knight” Daukaus re-enters the octagon following a 1st round submission win 3 months ago. The 29-year-old middleweight is 2-2 with a no contest in the UFC. Roman “The Caucasian” Dolidze, 33, is 9-1 as a professional and 3-1 in the UFC. Three of his four UFC fights have gone to a decision with the outlier being a round 1 knockout.
Daukaus vs. Dolidze is the first scheduled bout on this weekend’s UFC on
Daukaus is a respectable favorite over Dolidze and is currently listed at -250 on BetUS.
At these odds, a successful $100 bet on Daukaus would return $140. A winning bet of the same size on Dolidze would return $300 this weekend.
Daukaus began his career, like so many other young UFC fighters, with a complete but unconnected game. Early on, Daukaus was an above-average technical striker, solid wrestler, and impressive submission artist. However, he lacked the ability or experience to chain those three aspects of his game together. This resulted in him struggling to get the fight where he wanted it to be and allowed his opponents to lead the dance. Notably, though, Daukaus, while allowing his opponents to lead, developed an important skill- the ability to reverse position. Often, Daukaus would be backed into the cage, his opponent in a dominant clinch position, then, suddenly, Daukaus would reverse position, take the back, find the neck, and get the submission. While fighting from a defensive position is risky, Daukaus found success. More recently, Daukaus still has the same, if not improved, striking, wrestling, submission, and reversal skillsets along with the ability and experience to chain his attacks together. Said plainly, Daukaus has recently shown a cohesion to his game that allows him to be the one leading the dance. Daukaus is a skillful and intelligent fighter who has recently “clicked” his whole game together. That is a dangerous man in the octagon.
Dolidze, similarly to Daukaus, is a complete mixed martial artist. He has solid, power-based striking, reliable and strong wrestling, and an ability to find submissions, even from defensive positions. When he’s at his best, Dolidze strikes with aggression and power. He’ll plot forward, swing with ill-intent, and look to drop his opponent. Then, he’ll smoothly, but still aggressively, chain in his wrestling. Dolidze can land takedowns from range with single and double leg shots, but, often, tends to engage the clinch and drag his opponent down. Once down, Dolidze holds position well while looking for submissions. Above, I said “at his best” because Dolidze is often his own kryptonite in the octagon. Whether it is pure aggression gone wrong, a low fight IQ, or poor coaching, Dolidze often puts himself in bad positions after winning minutes of a round. Most notably, when Dolidze wrestles, he ends up in an advantageous position but tries to force a submission that isn’t there and ends up sacrificing the advantageous position for no reward. Dolidze has the skills to be a successful fighter but if he wants to climb the division, he’ll need to make better decisions in the cage.
Common sense says that when two primary grapplers face-off, the one who lands the takedown first will likely win. I don’t think that wisdom is fully accurate in this fight. Daukaus is as good of a, if not better, grappler than Dolidze and has historically capitalized on opponents’ mistakes. I see this fight ending with a Daukaus submission win. Whether Daukaus lands the takedown himself or reverts back to his early years with a smooth reversal when Dolidze engages the clinch, I foresee Daukaus finding the neck and getting his second submission win in a row.
Prediction: Kyle Daukaus to win by submission (+265 odds on BetUS)
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.