Everything you need to know about UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus

Publish Date
Friday, 25 March 2022, 9:54AM

ACC UFC contributor Felix Heath-Collins with everything you need to know ahead of UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus.

Sunday plays host to another UFC event in Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus. Notably, this fight night features the surging Kiwi contender Kai Kara-France in a high-stakes flyweight fight against the undefeated prospect Askar Askarov.

In the heavyweight main event elite wrestler Curtis "Razor" Blaydes (15-3) faces fresh-faced contender and knockout artist Chris Daukaus (12-4).

Curtis "Razor" Blaydes has a prototypical wrestling style that has dominated MMA to some degree or other since 1994. What happened in 1994, you ask? Dan "The Beast" Severn is what. Since his UFC 4 debut, pure wrestling (whether that be Greco-Roman, Freestyle, or Folkstyle) has been a dominant force in MMA. Up next were Mark "The Hammer" Coleman who debuted at UFC 10 in 1996, and Kevin "The Beast" Randleman (Coleman's protégé) who debuted at UFC 19 in 1999. Wrestling determines where the fight is fought, as the MMA cliché goes. And Curtis "Razor" Blaydes sure knows how to wrestle. Not only that, but he's also a devasting ground-and-pound specialist (thanks Mark Coleman!). In his brief UFC career Blaydes has finished the likes of Aleksei "The Boa Constrictor" Oleinik, Alistair "The Demolition Man" Overeem (who subsequently joined Blaydes' camp to learn how he lost), and Junior dos Santos. His only losses in MMA have come against current heavyweight champion Francis "The Predator" Ngannou (twice), and UFC KO all-time-leader Derrick "The Black Beast" Lewis.

Chris Daukaus has only been in the UFC since 2020, but he's sure made up for lost time! Daukaus's first three UFC fights ended via TKO in the first round, while his fourth fight was another KO, this time in the second round. First he TKO'd Parker Porter in the first, then Rodrigo "Zé Colmeia" Nascimento in the first, then Aleksei "The Boa Constrictor" Oleinik in the first, and finally Shamil "Abrek" Abdurakhimov in the second. Unfortunately, Daukaus then ran into Derrick "The Black Beast" Lewis. And, like Curtis Blaydes, Daukaus was violently knocked out cold by a "Black Beast" right hook.

Although this main event isn't mind-blowing, violence is guaranteed over 25 minutes in MMA - especially when two dangerous heavyweights are scrapping. If past is pretence, Blaydes will attempt to ground the fight and annihilate with heavy ground strikes, while Daukaus will attempt to defend against the takedowns of Blaydes and set up opportunities to land flurries or uppercut/knee counters to constant takedown attempts. Chris Daukaus seems unable to put on a boring fight, and I don't expect him to start now.

The only fight on this card that's somehow bigger and more exciting than the heavyweight main event is the main card match-up between undefeated Russian flyweight Askar "Bullet" Askarov (14-0) and the rapidly rising Kiwi contender Kai "Don't Blink" Kara-France (23-9).

Askar Askarov debuted in the UFC back in 2019 with a draw against future flyweight champion Brandon "The Assassin Baby" Moreno. Next Askarov would stamp out three consecutive unanimous decision wins against Tim Elliot, Alexandre "The Cannibal" Pantoja, and Joseph Benavidez. Now, second-ranked flyweight contender Askar Askarov defends his undefeated record and his direct trajectory to the title shot against his Kiwi opponent. Stylistically Askarov is a dominant wrestler (as is common with Russian fighters) who doesn't lose. He won't knock your head off, but he consistently and predictably wins decision after decision. Before the UFC, Askarov had a much more dynamic win-streak, earning himself three rear-naked chokes, four KO/TKO's from punches, an anaconda choke, and a twister (the rarest submission in MMA). And, after all those accomplishments, Askar Askarov was born deaf and therefore can't hear advice from his corner. Every cage-fighter is alone, but Askarov is especially solitary. And, on the other hand, completely unfazed by the crowd (likely anti-Russian) or any other audible distractions.

Kai Kara-France isn't just a Kiwi fighter, he's potentially the Kiwi-est fighter around. He was born and raised here in New Zealand to Maori ancestry, but that doesn't matter. What truly matters is his walkout song: Poi E. Which is easily the greatest walkout song ever. Kara-France has an impressive background having trained at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand before transitioning to MMA and joining the famed City Kickboxing gym in Auckland. Debuting in the UFC back in 2018, Kara-France started his career in the big leagues with three consecutive decision wins against Elias Garcia, Raulian Paiva, and Mark "The Bumblebee" De La Rosa. Following that was a unanimous decision loss to future flyweight champion Brandon "The Assassin Baby" Moreno, and then a unanimous decision win against Tyson Nam. next Kara-France was guillotine choked by Brandon "Raw Dawg" Royval, before earning back-to-back first-round KO's of Rogerio Bontorin and former bantamweight champion Cody "No Love" Garbrandt. And now Kara-France finds himself in a position to hand Askar Askarov his first loss and potentially earn a title shot.

Of course, I'm expecting Kai Kara-France to extend his amazing punch KO-streak to three with a first-ever finish of the undefeated Russian Askarov, therefore earning himself a title shot, before winning the flyweight title and riding off into the sunset. But perhaps there's a sliver of bias creeping in there. Much like the main event matchup, expect to see a typical grappler vs. striker pairing. Askarov's best bet is in the takedown and potentially the submission, if not a simple points-based decision win. Kara-France will likely look for a devastating KO and he has all the tools to pull it off. An undefeated fighter is a mystery, however, and Askar Askarov might just pull a Khabib and retire as the undefeated champion. Either way, this one should be explosive.

All this MMA action goes down this Sunday for us here in New Zealand. The main card begins at 12:00 PM (midday), while the prelims start a few hours earlier at 9:00 AM. Enjoy!

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