Currently unranked but perpetually near the top 15, Kyle Daukaus is a 28-year-old middleweight with a 10-2 professional record. In the UFC, Daukaus is 1-2-1 with all of his fights going to a decision. Jamie “The Nightwolf” Pickett, 33, fought three times on Dana White’s Contender Series. After earning a contract to the UFC, Pickett has gone 2-2 with both wins going to a decision.
Daukaus is a sizable favorite and growing ahead of Saturday night.
- Daukaus: -265
Since entering the UFC, Daukaus has been given no favors. Of the 4 fights he’s had, the Philly product has fought 3 ranked or nearly ranked fighters. In each of these fights, even in the losses, Daukaus shown real talent. He has a very slick submission game with a top-notch D’arce choke. He has a solid striking game, rooted in fundamental range striking and intelligent pocket striking designed to engage the clinch. Daukaus uses his natural reach well and uses feints well to work his way into the clinch. Once the clinch is engaged, Daukaus is a solid wrestler who will take his time and not sacrifice position for submission, even though 8 of his 10 wins have come by sub. This is because Daukaus won’t rush his game plan but is adept at implementing it. The gap in his game, and the reason for some of his losses is that he lacks natural athleticism and can sometimes be beat to the punch. This results in striking exchanges where it seems like he is losing on both the volume and power fronts. Nevertheless, he is a solid striker mixed with a dangerous ground game who I anticipate will crack the top 15 sometime soon.
Pickett will look to capitalize the possible blueprint to beating Daukaus. I say possible because only high level, ranked fighters have been able to implement it. Pickett, on the other hand, is 2-2 in the UFC with a negative strike differential. Pickett has good size but does not use his range well; he often crowds his punches and gets backed into the cage by more pressure focused fighters. Early in the rounds, despite crowding his punches, Pickett has decent power; but, as the fight goes on, that power fades. Instead, Pickett will look to clinch and uses his strong upper body to control his opponent. His typical path to victory is to grind his opponent and force his opponent to carry Pickett’s weight throughout the fight.
As Cory Anderson famously said, “there’s levels to this!” It sounds simple, but Daukaus is better everywhere the fight goes. On the feet, Daukaus is more fundamentally sound, uses range better, is more defensive, and has a higher volume. In the clinch, Daukaus again is more fundamental and dangerous. Finally, the fight hits the mat, Daukaus is miles ahead of Pickett. I see this fight starting slowly, then the two clinching against the cage, and finally ends with Daukaus getting Pickett’s back and neck.
Prediction: Daukaus by submission