Last Updated Mar 26, 2022, 8:03 PM

UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus Picks, Predictions, Odds

After an exciting night of fights in London, the UFC heads back to the States on March 26, 2022 in the Nationwide Arena for UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus, also known as UFC Columbus. 

A heavyweight bout between Curtis Blaydes and Chris Daukaus is expected to serve as the main event. Just before that, the co-main event is set to feature Joanne Wood and Alexa Grasso in the women’s flyweight division. 

The fight card consists of 13 bouts in total with notable appearances from Kai Kara-France, Neil Magny, and unbeaten flyweight Askar Askarov.

UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus Odds & Bouts

UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus Main Card

  • Heavyweight: Curtis Blaydes (-450) vs. Chris Daukaus (+350)
  • Women’s Flyweight: Joanne Wood (+200) vs. Alexa Grasso (-250)
  • Welterweight: Matt Brown (-110) vs. Bryan Barberena (-110)
  • Flyweight: Askar Askarov (-400) vs. Kai Kara-France (+300)
  • Heavyweight: Ilir Latifi (-200) vs. Alexey Oleinik (+170)
  • Lightweight: Marc Diakiese (+170) vs. Viacheslav Borschev (-200)

UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus Preliminary Card

  • Welterweight: Neil Magny (-300) vs. Max Griffin (+240)
  • Women’s Bantamweight: Sara McMann (+180) vs. Karol Rosa (-220)
  • Bantamweight: Chris Gutiérrez (+110) vs. Danaa Batgerel (-138)
  • Women’s Flyweight: Jennifer Maia (+350) vs. Manon Fiorot (-450)
  • Middleweight: Aliaskhab Khizriev (-1000) vs. Denis Tiuliulin (+600)
  • Flyweight: Matheus Nicolau (+110) vs. David Dvořákid (-138)
  • Featherweight: Luis Saldaña (-110) vs. Bruno Souza (-110)

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Curtis Blaydes vs. Chris Daukaus Picks

Wrestler versus striker, with an emphasis on both wrestler, and striker. Curtis Blaydes is probably one of the greatest wrestlers the heavyweight division has ever seen. Two of his career losses have come against current champ Francis Ngannou. The other came against Derrick Lewis. Apart from those three bouts, Blaydes has been dominating his competition with his grappling.

The hands have been getting better for Blaydes too. A knockout win over JDS is big, plus he just did pretty well against prominent kickboxer Jairzinho Rozenstruik on the feet in his most recent bout. Daukaus is a striker who recently had his four-fight win streak snapped by Derrick Lewis. His game revolves around throwing volume and moving out of the way of damaging blows.

In Chris' last loss against Lewis, which was his first 'L' under the UFC mantle, he was backing up too much. The slightest faint from Lewis caused a huge reaction in Daukaus which eventually led to him being trapped on the fence. From there Lewis was able to work his magic, and seconds later Daukaus was out.

Curtis Blaydes has won five of his last six fights. (UFC)

Against a guy like Blaydes you need to punish him on the feet - because you're only gonna get so many opportunities to catch him. Wait too much and you'll find yourself on the ground with this guy. Daukaus has good knockouts, however only in favorable matchups. None of the guys on Daukaus' resume has the wrestling accolades that Blaydes has.

Then there’s the size. Online metrics have Blaydes and Daukaus both listed at 6’3”, however there is a real size discrepancy here. Blaydes is by far the bigger man. Daukaus is a bit undersized for heavyweight with little muscle definition compared to a guy like Blaydes. Curtis fills out at heavyweight - Daukaus does not. Chris needs to not back up so much here. If he ends up with his back to the fence all the time he will get taken down. I know him and his brother have good grappling skills, but there are levels to wrestling. Blaydes will get takedowns unless you knock him out.

Daukaus does have the power to land a good shot, however Chris doesn’t seem capale of planting his feet and throwing when pressured. With a frame more fit for light heavyweight or middleweight, I have a hard time seeing him dominate the physical space against the far bigger Curtis Blaydes, who most likely closes the distance and finds the takedowns. Once in top control few have been able to withstand the barrage of Curtis.

Best Bet: Curtis Blaydes by KO, TKO, DQ or Submission (-150)

Joanne Wood vs. Alexa Grasso Picks

In the co-main of UFC Columbus, Joanne Wood faces Alexa Grasso in the women’s flyweight division. Joanne Wood is getting up there in age, there’s no denying it. Her most recent outing was against a tough prospect, and Joanne showed chinks in her durability for the first time in recent memory. 

Generally ‘JoJo’ is a high-volume fighter with good skills anywhere the fight can take place. Age can depreciate even the best fighter though. Age is a big x-factor in this fight for that reason. Rarely do we see fighters over 35 having an ascending career trajectoy. Grasso is 28 while Wood is 36 - in women’s MMA that stuff matters, perhaps even more so than in men's. Throughout Grasso’s UFC run her losses have come against opponents that are able to take her down. In fights that play out on the feet she tends to dominate. 

Wood not being particularly wrestling-heavy means this fight favors Grasso. The volume advantage does go to Wood, however the power goes to Grasso. Judges score power over volume, and with an uncharacteristically chinny Joanne Wood we have to consider how she climbs back and wins a decision if she gets dropped again.

This is a short breakdown, however the writing seems to be on the wall here. Wood is always fun to watch with that high volume, but this is a difficult matchup for her due to the fact that Grasso can match her on the feet and checkmate her there.

Best Bet: Alexa Grasso by Decision or Technical Decision (-150)

Askar Askarov vs. Kai Kara-France Picks

After a first-round destruction of former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt, City Kickboxing’s flyweight prospect Kai Kara-France takes on unbeaten Askar Askarov. This is potentially the title eliminator we’ve been waiting for at flyweight. Askarov is primarily a grappler with good takedowns and effective top control. Kara-France is a striker with solid fundamentals. This is a grappler versus striker matchup.

On paper Askar Askarov is one of those guys that looks like a future champion. It is when you really dive into his four outings in the UFC that the reality of his skill set becomes clearer. Allow me to expound ...

In his debut Askar faced off against Brandon Moreno in a fight that was scored a draw. You can give him a pass for that one - after all Moreno went on to become champ and its not like he lost. Since then, Askar has won three straight, but against Tim Elliot he failed to secure any takedowns, and watching that fight, Elliot was actually the one controlling the fight when it went to the mat.

Against Pantoja, Askarov was seemingly in the driver’s seat, however he just didn't rack up the control time that makes me go: “Wow, the guy is Khabib 2.0”. Mind you, Askar is not some godly-gifted striker at all. His game is built around taking guys down and submitting them. So it worries me that his record for control time in a 15-minutes bout is five minutes. That's not even better than your run-of-the-mill wrestler at most weight divisions. In the UFC he has averaged 3.37 punches landed per minute and 2.65 absorbed, so he’s low volume for sure. What will happen if he spends a full round striking with Kara-France? He will get hit.

Kai Kara-France has seen three straight fights end before Round 3. (UFC)

This fight reminds me of Tim Elliot’s recent bout against Tagir Ulanbekov. Some people were calling the decision a robbery, but I thought Elliot won fair and square - we actually called that fight correctly as Ulanbekov was one of the unbeaten guys mediocre in the metrics. I think this is another one of those cases. Askar has the prettier record, but the skills aren’t there to make him a justifiable -400 favorite.

France has good defensive sprawling, and he has never really been held down in the UFC. Against Bontorin he got taken to the mat but kept popping back up like a coil spring.  Askar is going to have an uphill battle here - he is not dangerous enough to make Kara-France respect his power which means he will be forced to retreat on the feet. This means he has to win this fight with top control and submission attempts, but as we covered, his numbers don't amaze me in that department.

Here's my final argument: Askarov hasn’t been able to bring his finishing game with him into the UFC. Mind you, this is a guy who had a 100% finish rate prior to getting the call - he has not been performing at his perceived level in the UFC, however the sportsbooks are still pricing him like he's a 100% finish guy. A 15-minute bout is all France can ask for. He will have loads of opportunities to land on the feet, and the big octagon favors the striker. I’m not saying Kara-France wins easily, but considering he is a +300 underdog even with that Garbrandt win in recent memory, the value is on France, no question.

Best Best: Kai Kara-France by Decision or Technical Decision (+550)

Matt Brown vs. Bryan Barberena Picks

At welterweight two veterans lock horns. 41-year-old Matt Brown won his last bout against Dhiego Lima. If not for that fight he’d be on a three-fight losing streak most likely headed towards retirement. Speaking of retirement, Brown seems to have been flirting with the idea ever since losing to Carlos Condit at UFC on ABC 1. This is what a red flag looks like ladies and gentlemen.

For guys like Matt Brown it's always difficult to know when to call it quits. Brown is far from his heyday at this point, considering the fact that he's 5-5 in his last 10 with wins only against favorable matchups - opponents at his own age or fighters with lots of losses. Dhiego Lima falls under the latter of those categories, plus he is retired now. That is not a win that has aged particularly well.

Bryan Barberena certainly isn’t a world beater, although there was a time he could’ve been with the right training. At this point in his career he is mostly a guy known for his toughness. Being known for eating big shots is certainly not something you should be content with if you plan on remaining in the UFC for a long time. Barberena has never evolved past that reliance on his chin. He is a fighter that has hit his ceiling. That's not a knock on him - most fighters tend to stagnate when they're around 32 years of age.

In a light sparring match Matt Brown probably wins eight out of 10 times through technique alone, however this is not a light sparring match - Barberena will be able to land hard shots and Brown’s chin is not what it has been. 

I think Matt needs to wrestle, and if that fails, clinch, for dear life if he wants a win this weekend. Could he pull a wrestling-heavy gameplan off here? His loss to Condit makes me question how good he truly is on the ground - being outcontrolled by Condit, a guy notoriously bad on the ground, is not a good look. You wanna be winning the wrestling scrambles there for sure. Bryan might be able to get back to his feet and keep up the onslaught.

The age discrepancy is everything in this fight. By no means is Bryan a top-level guy, but he is not on his way out unlike Brown who has publicly contemplated retirement on more than one occasion. Barberena has stagnated, yes, but his career trajectory is not plummeting toward the ground like Brown's. Bryan puts the nail in the coffin and sends Brown off to retirement this Saturday. You simply can't be over 40 and still fight UFC guys while contemplating retirement on the regular.

Best Bet: Bryan Barberena by KO, TKO, DQ or Submission (+275)

Ilir Latifi vs. Aleksei Oleinik Picks

Moving on down the card we’ve got a fun heavyweight fight between two veterans. Oleynik is one of the most experienced guys to ever grace the octagon. He has 76 total pro MMA bouts and holds wins over top competition in multiple decades. What a career he’s had. As with Matt Brown in the breakdown above, age is starting to creep up on Alexey who turns 45 in June. The Russian has dropped three straight heading into Saturday’s bout.

Sweden’s Ilir Latifi initially started out his UFC tenure in the light heavyweight division where he racked up a record of 7-5 under the UFC mantle. A 7-5 run is not too bad, however Ilir, for some reason, decided to make the move up in weight in 2020 where he is now 1-1: one loss to Derrick Lewis, one split-decision win over Tanner Boser.

He is too small for heavyweight.

Latifi is not on the young side either. At this point it seems like the UFC matchmakers are giving Oleynik an early birthday present with this matchmaking, Ilir being one of the older fighters on the heavyweight roster.

Aleksei Oleinik has lost three straight fights. (UFC)

Honestly I think Latifi was a bit undersized for light heavyweight, and now that he’s competing at heavyweight he’s seriously undersized. Oleynik will have a reach advantage of seven inches in reach, and four inches in height. On the feet Oleynik almost always has a huge disadvantage - he’s the submission guy most of the time, sorta like a heavyweight Demian Maia. Latifi is perhaps the one guy the UFC could dig up, who is even worse standing than Oleynik. Latifi needs takedowns to win.

Volume-wise Latifi has averaged under two strikes per minute throughout his UFC career. In his fight against Latifi you realize he just has zero striking ability. He throws nothing. 

We essentially have a heavyweight version of Demian Maia vs. Ben Askren here, guys. Latifi is a wrestler with very little striking, while Oleynik is a submission-based grappler. We all remember who won that fight, even with a plus money next to his name ...

Both guys are not good on the feet, I have covered that, but Oleynik has that aforementioned size advantage which makes me side with him. This is a very bad matchup for Latifi due to the fact that, unless he can somehow control 10 minutes of this fight without ending up in bad positions, he will be forced to strike.

Some might say: "Oh, but Ilir Latifi has never been submitted!" To that I ask: had Been Askren been 'subbed' prior to fighting Maia?

Best Bet: Aleksey Oleynik To Win Fight (+150)

Marc Diakiese vs. Viacheslav Borschev Picks

Although Marc Diakiese is the more experienced guy he has not looked himself lately. Following his three-fight win streak after signing with the UFC in 2016 he was looking like a new addition to the lightweight division. Since then consistency has not been a friend of the Englishman as he is 2-5 in his last seven. 

Diakiese is a well-rounded guy with good abilities all across the board. His main weapon is usually takedowns which he averages just over two of per 15 minutes. Marc’s kryptonite has always been a good striker and Viacheslav Borshchev is just that - a good striker. Building on this further, Borshchev is accustomed to opponents going for takedowns against him. In his two most recent bouts he has had six takedowns attempted against him. He won both of those fights.

Diakiese is a low-volume guy who wants space to implement his takedowns, preferably up against the fence. Viacheslav is a high-volume guy with forward-marching pressure. Wrestlers usually need the fence to secure double-leg takedowns and since that is Marc’s go-to move, I see Viacheslav having success here.

The only downside to Borshchev is his experience. He only has seven MMA bouts. However, he has had no issue moving up the ranks so far and taking on better competition. He just won the performance of the night against Dakota Bush in his debut. Debuts are usually harder than subsequent UFC bouts since there’s always a question in the minds of fighters when making the transition to the big scene: “Am I good enough for this level?” 

Viacheslav will not have as much pressure going into this bout, and I see him getting his hand raised.

The writing is on the wall here. Diakiese has been too inactive in recent years and the game is unforgiving. Marc can't hang with Borschev on the feet.

Best Bet: Viacheslav Borshchev To Win Fight (-200)

Neil Magny vs. Max Griffin Picks

The experienced Neil Magny takes on tough-chinned Max Griffin.

Magny has been around since before I started watching the UFC. The guy has more cage time than anyone else on the roster at his age. The guy is only 34 years old and has had over 20 fights in the UFC. The experience he carries is a giant advantage.

Max Griffin has battled consistency ever since losing his debut to Colby Covington at UFC 202. He is 6-6 in the UFC today, but seems to have figured some stuff out as of late, currently being on a three-fight win streak. Can he beat a guy like Magny though?

There is a clear gap between Magny and Griffin, skills wise more so than anything. The guys Griffin has been fighting are bottom-shelf guys compared to the opposition Magny has been facing during his UFC career. I mean, sure, you can give Max a pass for losing to Covington, but the rest of his losses are not against guys I consider world beaters. Alex Oliveira is a journeyman, and so is Thiago Alves. By no means am I saying that losing to those guys is bad, on the contrary, it's just not good enough if you want to beat guys like Neil Magny - neither is going 6-6 over your 12 UFC fights.

Griffin’s well-rounded style means he won’t be able to outclass Neil anywhere. Magny has been susceptible to takedowns in the past, but only against high-level grapplers such as Michael Chiesa. I don’t believe Griffin will be able to get takedowns at will here. If he does, Neil will get back up.

On the feet I see Magny dominating the physical space, pushing Griffin back and popping that jab in his face. Neil’s 80* reach will come into play as it always does, although he doesn’t have a reach advantage as noteworthy as usual. Max does have solid wrestling, but he does not chain wrestle particularly well, which is why I think we will see a fight playing out on the feet for the most part.

In that scenario I don’t see any other outcome than Neil winning handily with his reach and technical striking. The big octagon also means Magny will be able to move around and get out of the way of Griffin’s power.

Best Bet: Neil Magny by Decision or Technical Decision (-120)

Sara McMann vs. Karol Rosa Picks

41-year-old UFC veteran Sara McMann takes on up-and-comer Karol Rosa. Although you’d think McMann to be the far more experienced fighter in this matchup, Rosa is actually the one with more MMA bouts as a pro which is pretty interesting.

McMann obviously has that wrestling background which she will use to try and get takedowns and win a decision - that’s how she always does it. The question is: can Rosa stop those takedowns? If she can this fight will be a sweat for McCann, who is as one-sided as one can be. In this day and age the one-trick pony's are becoming increasingly rare, and with good reason. The game evolves.

Watching tape on Rosa when she fought on the regional scene most of her losses have come by submission. More specifically, she takes girls down and ends up in a bad position. Coming into this fight Rosa has won six straight though, meaning she has been very consistent.

The transition into fighting UFC-level competition has been flawless for Rosa too. She made her debut in 2019 where she beat Lara Procopio via split decision, and since then she has fought thrice winning all bouts via decision. In four UFC bouts Rosa has won 11 of 12 rounds. That’s called consistency. Rosa also fought twice last year and has been quite active in the octagon. Meanwhile McMann has only made the walk three times since 2018. Not a good look considering injuries and pull-outs have been the reasoning behind her inactivity.

Sara McMann has seen a submission result in five of her last six fights. (UFC)

Since Rosa is the one initating takedowns and then getting submitted in her losses, I think she’s a lock here. Takedowns are a heavy indicator of wrestling prowess, and Rosa holds a 91% takedown defense whilst averaging 1.68 takedowns per 15 minutes just under the UFC mantle. Basically: if you can wrestle offensively, you can wrestle defensively. Watching tape on Rosa I was happy to see that she was the one initiating the grappling exchanges that led to her defeat. She was not getting taken down and put in those positions.

McMann is a fighter from a bygone era of MMA - a time in which specialists were able to compete at the top of the UFC. Now you need skills in all areas of the game - McMann has never developed those hands to produce anything meaningful. She is a female Ben Askren in my eyes. Against someone like Rosa who averages 7.88 strikes per minute that low-volume striking won't hold up. She’ll simply get busted up. 

I have no doubt that McMann will be able to get a few takedowns, but Rosa’s scrambling ability is good enough to get her back to her feet. Once the lactic acid starts building the age discrepancy comes into play. Rosa will wear the rounds far better than a 41-year-old injury-prone wrestler. I’ve got Rosa here all day. Unless she has an off night she gets the job done.

Best Bet: Karol Rosa by Decision or Technical Decision (+130)

Chris Gutiérrez vs. Danaa Batgerel Picks

Striker versus striker.

Batgerel has the power, Gutiérrez has the technique, and the narrative is obvious here: Batgerel wins this inside the distance, and Gutiérrez wins the decision.

Who can impose their will?

Batgerel is certainly the more flashy striker on a three-fight knockout streak. His most recent win was over an experienced guy in Brandon Davis.

Gutiérrez is a much more patient fighter and his claim to fame is his kicks, specifically those targeted at his opponents' legs. Impressively enough, Chris is one of the only fighters in the UFC to hold a TKO win via leg kicks, so you know he is lethal when he targets that area.

To keep it real simple, I think that Danaa's betting line is overinflated as a result of his finishes. Sure, getting finishes is impressive, but I need to be sure that he can keep that activity up going the distance. The only time Batgerel has seen a decision in the UFC he came up short, and it was against a guy with far less volume than Gutiérrez. How good is his composure truly?

Mind you, Chris is a well-versed guy with over 20 pro fights in MMA and zero knockout losses. The only time he was finished was via submission and we all know Batgerel wont pull off a 'sub in this fight.

On paper these two are equally matched up, however Gutiérrez has over four times as much cage time under the UFC mantle than Batgerel.

So we have two strikers, one is going for the head and wants a knockout, one is taking his time and picking at the legs. Honestly, I favor the latter in a striker versus striker matchup. We've seen time and time again that leg kicks has become a new facet of the game that guys have a hard time dealing with. When there's no takedown threat Chris wont be deterred from spamming the kicks all night long. Danaa's record has two submission wins on it, but come on, zero takedowns attempted in four UFC fights means you're a striker.

This will not be a fight where Batgerel can land a big shot and call it an early night - he needs to hang in there for three rounds against one of the best leg kickers in the game.

Gutiérrez wins here.

Best Bet: Chris Gutiérrez To Win Fight (+110)

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