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UFC on ESPN 33 Staff Predictions: Curtis Blaydes vs. Chris Daukaus betting odds, preview

UFC on ESPN 33 Staff Predictions: Curtis Blaydes vs. Chris Daukaus betting odds, preview

UFC on ESPN 33 Staff Predictions: Curtis Blaydes vs. Chris Daukaus betting odds, preview 3

A heavyweight fight between Curtis Blaydes and Chris Daukaus is scheduled as this weekend’s UFC on ESPN 33 main event bout.

Currently ranked #4 in the UFC heavyweight division, Blaydes will defend his spot against the now ninth-ranked Daukaus. The main event fight is scheduled for five rounds at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Blaydes has won five of his last six bouts, with his most recent victory coming against Jairzinho Rozenstruik in September. That victory got him back to winning form after a defeat to Derrick Lewis in February last year.

Daukaus has also won five of his last six fights, with his only defeat being one against Lewis. Daukaus’ most recent wins include victories against Shamil Abdurakhimov and Aleksei Oleinik.

Read on for the latest Blaydes vs. Daukaus betting odds and our full staff predictions, fight preview, and analysis before UFC on ESPN 33 this Saturday night.

Betting Odds

  • Blaydes: -475
  • Daukaus: +350

Staff Predictions

Braeden Arbour

Chris Daukaus is a great power puncher. He is the kind of fighter that typically finishes his opponent or goes out on his own shield, made obvious when one looks at his resume and sees he is yet to even see a third round. His style is based mostly on his boxing, and he uses long wide fast-whipping hooks to open up the center channel for his crisper straights to cut through. Curtis Blaydes is not the most polished striker, he throws some good leg kicks from afar, taking advantage of his reach but his boxing is a little awkward plus his overhangs have a bit of a pitching nature to them. For the most part, his strikes are really just to set up the takedown, as he holds a substantial wrestling advantage over most heavyweights in the UFC.

Yet, power punchers like Daukaus have seemingly been the ones that Blaydes has had difficulty with, as Derrick Lewis and Francis Ngannou have shown. Blaydes, because he is so relentless in his pursuit for the takedown as well as because it’s so evidently clear that is his key goal, he sometimes shoots predictably. This is where it costs him as he runs into strikes as he enters. Therefore he has to make sure that his takedowns are not naked, and that they must be set up by gaining some level of respect from Dauakus on the feet. Key, I think will be those leg kicks, as well as largely feinting with the hands, he has the reach advantage so tagging Daukuas at range is a possibility with his jab. Once he can get Dauakus to react, the takedowns will materialize easier, and on the mat, Blaydes ground and pound is deadly.

Daukaus’ only UFC came recently at the hands of Derrick Lewis, so the holes in his game are yet to be seen enough to be considered very consistent. However, with his history of finishing his opponent or being finished in the process, and absolute trust in his ability to KO his opponents cannot cause him to be content putting himself in much danger. I doubt that Blaydes will want to test this, nor that his power is purely enough to put Daukaus in the same danger as vice versa, but if Daukaus takes to wild an approach hunting the finish he may find himself on his back. If Blaydes can continue to develop by learning from his the predictability in his entries I think he comes in with the correct game pla, drags Daukaus into the later rounds yet seen by Daukaus, and secures a late finish.

Prediction: Curtis Blaydes via TKO

Michael Pounders

Blaydes is a relentless, fundamental, and successful wrestler. He averages 6.3 takedowns per fight; which, considering on fight night, he weighs around 270 pounds is as impressive as it is lethal. Prior to the UFC, Blaydes won a National NJCAA Wrestling championship. He brought a very similar game plan into the UFC. On the feet, Blaydes is, at best, a defensive striker who more so hand fights as opposed to strikes. With his time training under Trevor Whitman, Blaydes has started to form a basic jab. While that may sound insignificant, a wrestler with a solid jab is a dangerous combination. This is because it allows him to stay safe at range while maneuvering an opponent into a desired spot before shooting. That is Blaydes’ exact strategy. The striking aspect of the approach is still far from developed; but, the takedown and wrestling aspect is nearly flawless. Once he gets an opponent down, “Razor” earns his nickname by unleashing heavy slicing elbows. A 270-pound wrestler smothering an opponent while dropping his entire body weight into a forearm or elbow strike is a dangerous game, and the primary path to victory for the #4 ranked heavyweight.

Daukaus is the water to Blaydes’ oil. On the feet, Daukaus moves smoothly and intelligently, bouncing in and out of range while selectively landing combination behind a technically sound jab. He will often push forward with a bounce in his boxing stance that allows Daukaus to cut angles and exit the pocket after landing his combinations. Moreover, the Philly fighter pushes an incredibly high pace for a heavyweight, landing 7.7 significant strikes per minute. Daukaus lands volume with accuracy which, unlike many other heavyweights, provides him opportunities to out-box his opponents rather than needing to land one big shot. Further, Daukaus not needing to land one big shot leaves him more defensively sound. By not overextending on a heavy strike, Daukaus can keep a high guard against strikers and a balanced base against wrestlers. His boxing, in this fight, likely won’t be tested. His wrestling, however, will be. Thus far, Daukaus has a 100% takedown defense in the UFC; but, only 2 shots have even been attempted. He trains at a high-level gym that specializes in wrestling and Daukaus has a jiu-jitsu background. Neither experience will measure up to Blaydes’ wrestling; but, they could be enough to survive on the mat.

Blaydes has only been beaten by the current champ, Ngannou, and heavyweight knockout record holder, Lewis. Blaydes has been able to beat every other fighter he’s faced who does not have otherworldly power. We could see a repeat of many of his previous fights. However, I think Daukaus’ movement, combination boxing, and jiu-jitsu background creates an interesting matchup that should create an opening to test Blaydes’ chin. If he finds it cleanly, Blaydes could drop again. That path to victory seems more likely than the odds suggest so I like it as a small play.

Prediction: Daukaus by knockout

Joe Pounders

Blaydes is the best wrestler in the heavyweight division. This statement is perhaps all that is needed when breaking down the top-5 fighter, particularly when you add the fight statistic of him having a takedown average of 6.27 landed per 15 minutes. Once the takedown is secured, Blaydes uses his large and athletic frame to move to an advantageous position and inflict damaging ground and pound, his elbows being his most threatening weapon. If his opponent successfully gets back to their feet, Blaydes will briefly strike with them, and then once an opportunity arises, he will immediately shoot a takedown. This style of briefly striking, largely with long-range technical attacks of a jab and straight right hand, to then, shoot a takedown, has worked flawlessly for Blaydes when fighting anyone not named Francis Ngannou or Derrick Lewis. Thus, so long as Blaydes avoids the single, one-punch ability of his opponent, he often dominates the bout from start to finish making him a difficult matchup for any heavyweight in the UFC.

Losing to Derrick Lewis is known by Chris Daukaus as well, as the size disparity between the two proved to be too much for Daukaus in his last fight as he was quite smaller than Lewis. Being somewhat undersized in the octagon has its advantages, particularly when fighting non-elite power strikers. Of note, the smaller frame allows Daukaus to use fast and athletic movement to bounce in and out of range to land fast boxing combinations and combat counter attacks. Moreover, favoring speed over size creates the opportunity for him to land clean and damaging calf strikes which are often lacking in the heavyweight division due to this strike being best combated with a blitz right hand.

For this particular fight, the aforementioned benefits of Daukaus favoring athletic movement will likely prove effective on the feet given the calf kick and quick hands will land against Blaydes; and more importantly, the continual side-to-side movement will best negate the takedown attempts Blaydes will showcase in the bout. If Daukaus can continually mitigate the takedown for the duration of the fight, his chances in this bout are far greater than his underdog betting odds suggest.

This fight boils down to Daukaus combating the takedowns of Blaydes. If he can, he has the faster and more damaging strikes on the feet. If he cannot, the ground and pound of Blaydes will prove too much and likely end the fight in the middle-to-late rounds. To answer this proposed inflection point, I am electing to bring forth two critical informational points: one, Daukaus has the necessary movement and counter attacks to frustrate Blades; and two, Daukaus understands precisely what Blaydes needs to do in the octagon and has a gym filled with some of the highest-level wrestlers in the UFC, albeit much smaller than Blaydes. So, under the notion that Daukaus having the clear advantage on the feet with the perceived belief in him mitigating the concern of being dominated in the grappling department, I am electing to back the challenger of Daukaus who has an extremely advantageous betting price.

Bet: Daukaus

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