Kyle “D’Arce Knight” Daukaus, brother of heavyweight Chris who fights the following week, is a 29-year old middleweight with an 11-3 professional record. Daukaus has nine submissions wins as a pro but only one in the UFC. His UFC record is a salty 2-3-1 but as been filled with solid fighters in or just outside of the rankings. Ex-Alabama football linebacker, Eryk “Ya Boi” Anders has been in the UFC since 2017 and has amassed a 6-7-1 record. Both men are looking to get back in the win column Saturday night.
Daukaus is a solid 2:1 favorite which puts Anders as a sizable underdog on the comeback.
Daukaus is a disjointed fighter who has individual parts of his game that are lethal but struggles to string all of his skills together. At his best, Daukaus transitions from the clinch or from top position to the back of his opponent, secures a body lock, and finds a choke. If he can get an opponent down or in a vulnerable position on the mat, Daukaus’ submission game can end the fight quickly. His issue, however, is getting the fight into his world safely and regularly. On the feet, the Philadelphia product is a young but growing striker who lands a jab effectively and uses feints and footwork well to get into range.
His issue is defense once Daukaus enters the pocket. He is not the best athlete and while his footwork is an asset, Daukaus does not move his head well once in striking range. Being a half step behind better athletes and a lack of head movement has resulted in him getting outstruck, clipped, and, most recently, finished. Because of his length, Daukaus finds more success striking at range but he needs to close distance to initiate his primary attack: wrestling and grappling. That transition, from range to the clinch, is where Daukaus has struggled the most. When he is able to navigate the pocket safely, he often pressures his opponent to the cage where he can hold position while also transitioning for submissions. Bottom line, Daukaus is a serviceable range striker and a dangerous grappler, if he can string the two distances together, he can be dangerous. If not, Daukaus has to continue to rely on his strong chin to weather a storm in the pocket as he looks for his opponent’s hips or back.
Despite being an ex-division one football player at one of the best football schools in the country, Anders has underwhelmed athletically in the octagon. He is large and dense for the middleweight division but struggles to keep pace with the more nimble strikers. Because of this, Anders tends to follow a similar game plan as Daukaus. On the feet, the southpaw looks to stay at range or just outside of range where he can feint, draw a strike out of his opponent, and counter with a heavy left hand. If he’s not at range, Anders looks to avoid the pocket where speed reigns supreme.
Even though Anders has the edge in power, his looping power strikes often leave him exposed to quicker and more technical strikers; so, in the pocket, Anders can be clipped clean before he lands. Instead, Anders looks to engage the clinch where he can use his strength and dense size to his advantage. He looks to overpower and lay on his opponent against the cage for long periods while he periodically lands body shots and knees to help rack up control time. Anders’ typical path to victory is to land the one big power shot and drop an opponent or grind them out against the cage.
This fight should take place in both fighters’ preferred octagon location: against the cage. Anders will have the edge in natural strength, while Daukaus will have the edge in technique and submissions. To put it bluntly, I just see Daukaus as the better fighter. While his striking is rigid, Daukaus’ straight shots should land before Anders’ looping ones. Further, against the cage, I anticipate Daukaus being able to control position and eventually take Anders’ back. Technique will beat strength on Saturday night.
Pick: Daukaus by submission (bet now at MyBookie)
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.