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Last Updated Dec 23, 2021, 16:28 PM

UFC Fight Night Lewis vs. Daukaus Picks, Predictions, Odds



Dec. 18, 2021
by Adam Lykkesteen
UFC Expert
VegasInsider.com

The UFC has the final event of 2021 locked and loaded for December 18, headlined by grizzled veteran Derrick Lewis and surging prospect Chris Daukaus, slated to go down in the UFC Apex. Lewis is looking to get back in the win column after a loss to interim champion Ciryl Gane, and Daukaus is on a mission to solidify himself as a top five contender at Heavyweight.

Just before the main event, Welterweights take to the stage. 170-pound veteran Stephen Thompson takes on Belal Muhammad for the UFC Vegas 45 co-main event. UFC Vegas 45 features other notable matchups including, but not limited to, Mateusz Gamrot vs Carlos Diego Ferreira, Raphael Assuncao vs Ricky Simon, and Cub Swanson vs Darren Elkins.

UFC Vegas 45 Lewis vs. Daukaus Betting Predictions

We round out the year with some heavyweight action. Prior to fighting Ciryl Gane in his most recent outing, Lewis had racked up four wins in a row. Lewis is known for his fight-ending power, and is usually comfortable waiting for his openings to close the show. He does not mind losing rounds to achieve that goal.

As with most counter punchers, there is a risk of them falling behind on the scorecards due to inactivity. If the big opening doesn’t present itself for Lewis, he usually gets rolled over. When fighting guys that are technical enough to negate that danger, Lewis is a fish out of water. Volkov, for the most part, Daniel Cormier, Junior dos Santos, and Ciryl Gane were all able to expose this hole in Lewis’ game. The Houston fighter is just not technically sound.

Daukaus is a surging prospect coming into this fight on a four-fight win streak, all wins coming by way of KO. He has earned a bonus for his last three. Chris is a striker, and operates with a speed and timing perhaps only rivalled by fellow heavyweight prospect Tom Aspinall. Regardless of the outcome this weekend, I feel like that fight, Aspinall vs Daukaus, must take place at one point. Lewis has the power advantage, but he doesn’t throw the volume that Daukaus does.

UFC Vegas 45 Lewis vs. Daukaus tale of the tape

Tale of the Tape: Lewis vs. Daukaus (12/18/21)
Fighter Derrick Lewis Chris Daukaus
Record 25-8-0 (1 NC) 12-3-0
Average Fight Time 9:45 3:23
Height 6'3" 6'3"
Weight 260 lbs 250 lbs
Reach 79" 76"
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Age 36 32
Strikes Landed per Min. 2.49 9.03
Striking Accuracy 50% 53%
Strikes Absorbed per Min. 2.48 3.40
Striking Defense 41% 64%
Striking Differential 0.01 5.63
Takedowns Average/15 min. 0.49 0.00
Takedown Accuracy 25% 0%
Takedown Defense 55% 100%
Submissions Average/15 min. 0.0 0.0

In between Lewis’ short bursts of offense, Daukaus needs to work his strikes and keep Lewis on the back foot. Defensively Daukaus is not as savvy as Ciryl Gane, but I believe the fact that he won't be as overly defensive will do him well. Generally, power punchers must be pressured. By doing so, you take them out of their comfort zone and they gas out quicker.

The fact that Daukaus can focus one hundred percent on striking, due to Lewis rarely going for takedowns, will be the x-factor here. Daukaus is far quicker and Lewis will get caught with something in the later rounds when fatigue starts to set in.

Betting-wise, the odds are way closer than I would’ve anticipated. Daukaus has won four straight on the feet. The only advantage for Lewis is strength of schedule. He is coming off a tough loss though, so motivation favors Daukaus in my mind.

Best Bet: Daukaus via TKO/KO/DQ (+110)

UFC Vegas 45: Lewis vs. Daukaus Betting Resources

  • Date: Saturday, December 18, 2021
  • Venue: UFC Apex
  • Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Network: ESPN+
  • Prelims Time: 4:00 p.m. ET
  • Main Card Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Betting Odds

UFC Vegas 45: Lewis vs. Daukaus Card Picks

Stephen Thompson vs. Belal Muhammad

Just before the main event kicks off, UFC Welterweight veteran, Stephen Thompson, takes on rising contender Belal Muhammed in the co-main. Thompson is widely regarded as one of the greatest strikers in UFC history, and I can’t say that I disagree. His karate-style stance makes him a master of range, and his precision and technique is unrivalled.

With that being said, age is slowly beginning to creep up on the 38-year old former title challenger. Thompson’s title aspirations were once again wiped out when he lost to Gilbert Burns in July. He lost to the more hungry contender in that fight if you ask me. We’ve seen time and time again that if you let Stephen operate from kicking range in the middle of the octagon, he will defeat you, be it via decision or knockout.

The gaps in between the finishes from Thompson seem to have widened as he has grown older though, but he is still one of the better point fighters at 170 lbs. Thompson is also extremely well-versed in fighting on the back foot due to his background in karate. He is constantly on his toes, bouncing back and forth, which makes him hard to track down.

We saw him completely matador a bulldozing Vicente Luque for the most part in their bout two years ago. He did the same to Geoff Neal right after that. The key to beating Stephen is still out there though, and Thompson has only managed to win two of his last five outings. The younger guys are catching up.

Pressure and clinch is what one must do to defeat Thompson, who thrives from a distance. Getting takedowns obviously also completely nullifies the 38-year old’s striking. We saw that against Gilbert Burns recently. The ground game of “Wonderboy” has never truly evolved to a level where I can expect him to beat anyone in the top five with half-decent grappling.

Don’t get me wrong, the takedown defense is there for Thompson, but the get-up game isn’t. That’s key here. Belal is a guy who popped up on everyone’s radar recently. His win over grizzled veteran Demian Maia certainly helped him get there. In my mind, Belal and the skill set he possesses perfectly reflects the sport’s growth and evolution. He has slick striking, he has some wrestling in his back pocket and he has submission too. The guy is well-rounded.

In the old days, I’d expect Thompson to run right through a guy like Belal, but the five-year age advantage is big here. While five years doesn’t sound like much, when one guy is in his early thirties, and the other in his late thirties, the latter has already been on a physical decline for some time. Belal is not savvy enough to win a point fight with Stephen, but I expect him to get in close and win this fight in the clinch, going for takedowns, and just in general making the fight greasy.

Thompson doesn’t really have the same pop in his shots anymore, and unless he lands one of those patented kicks I don’t see him getting a finish. Seeing Belal completely nullify the expert jiu-jitsu of someone like Demian Maia really impressed me. He knows how to follow a game plan from start to finish, and he doesn’t compromise. The IQ and overall upwards trajectory Belal seems to be on will hand him this fight. At the same time, he will show Thompson the door on his MMA career. I know it sucks, and I really like Thompson too, but at 38-years old the amount of success you can have in 2021’s MMA is simply limited.

Best Bet: Belal Muhammad ML (+200)

Amanda Lemos vs. Angela Hill

Just before the co-main kicks off, a rising prospect takes on a grizzled veteran in the women’s strawweight division. After knocking out Montserrat Conejo in 35 seconds all doubt was erased - Lemos is a new contender at 115-pounds. She is currently on a four-fight winning streak with three finishes, all coming in the first round.

Conejo is an aggressive finisher with sharp striking and a good ground game as well. My only concern is her gas tank which we perhaps saw a bit exploited in her debut against Leslie Smith. Hill is among the most experienced women fighting in the UFC with a total of 18 bouts under the mantle. What’s even more impressive, is the fact that Hill has never tasted defeat via KO in her entire MMA career.

Lemos might have something to say about that though, but usually when we see veterans making it for so long without getting finished via strikes, there’s not much reason to expect a knockout to happen on that side. Hill is old for strawweight though, but surprisingly enough, the gap in age is only two years. Hill has more miles on the clock however, but that can also work in her favor this weekend.

I usually don’t like picking the up-and-coming fighter with an ‘overweight’ of finishes on their record, taking on a hard-nosed veteran such as Hill. We just saw a similar matchup unfold last weekend, when Tony Kelley was able to best 135-pound prospect Randy Costa after gassing him out. Hill isn’t just some walkover on the feet either, and she knows how to grind out a decision over the top girls at 115-pounds. She’s shown that for years.

Lemos is a little old to be such a big favorite in my book, and if Hill can apply that high staggering volume in the later rounds, as she usually does, I expect Lemos to fatigue by the end of the second. Lemos might get her out of there in the first, but for value I have to go with the more experienced and battle-tested Angela Hill.

Best Bet: Angela Hill via Decision (+500)

Raphael Assuncao vs. Ricky Simon

The 39-year-old Bantamweight veteran looks to get back in the win column after losing three in a row. He faces surging 135-pound contender, Simon, who has won three straight. Assuncao is mainly a striker with leg kicks as his main weapon. He is technical in his approach and prefers to win on the cards.

Raphael was once a top guy in the 135-pound division, but as with most veterans, father time is creeping around the corner. Losing his last three is not particularly bad if you just look at the names to which he’s lost, but dissecting that three-fight skid paints a picture of a fighter in decline.

Assuncao has landed 64 strikes in his last three bouts while in turn, absorbing 91. On top of that, he has been knocked down twice and has not won a single round. I see a fighter in decline. On the other hand, Simon is a fighter on an upwards trajectory.

He took two losses in 2019, but made the correct adjustments and is now on a three-fight winning streak. That’s big. On top of that, Simon is ten years younger than his opponent this weekend. Just going by that statistic alone, Ricky has a 67% chance of winning this Saturday. Now add in the fact that he’s one of the most touted grapplers in his weight class, averaging just about seven takedowns per fight. That’s right, seven.

Assuncao has a critically acclaimed takedown defense, but I don’t see it holding up against the ruthless barrage of chain-wrestling from Simon. Even on the feet, Assuncao has been unable to impose his will and has looked so slow as of late, that I question his ability to win a striking battle against a much younger and hungrier cat, like Simon.

Best Bet: Ricky Simon via Decision (+110)

CARLOS DIEGO FERREIRA VS MATEUSZ GAMROT

An outstanding fight between newly-signed prospect, Mateusz Gamrot, and 155-pound incumbent Ferreira, takes place this weekend at UFC Vegas 45.

Gamrot is on a hot streak at the moment, coming into this bout on a two-fight winning streak with wins over Scott Holtzman and Jeremy Stephens. In both outings Gamrot looked very impressive, and was able to get the job done against good competition.

Ferreira, the incumbent in this matchup, has had a tough time in the octagon lately. He has lost his last two straight and hasn’t looked as sharp as usual.

Ferreira is a dangerous grappler, but his wrestling is not up to date. He is fine going for submissions if he gets taken down, but actively seeking out the submission is not something he usually does.

Gamrot is the full package in MMA. He has the expert striking to win this fight on the feet, and I could see him taking down Ferreira and controlling him for the majority of 15 minutes. Ferreira has lost on the ground to better wrestlers before - most notably in his rematch against Beneil Dariush. His wrestling is his biggest heel.

Youth and overall career trajectory is also in favor of Gamrot here, who has shown great improvements in his last two bouts.

Ferreira is outmatched on the feet, and since he doesn’t go for takedowns often, I think Gamrot takes this one.

Best Bet: Mateusz Gamrot ML (-190)

CUB SWANSON VS DARREN ELKINS

This is a fun bout between two grizzled veterans to kick off the main card.

Cub Swanson is a household name in the 145-pound division, with wins over the likes of current lightweight champion, Charles Oliveira, dating all the way back to 2012.

Swanson is a well-versed mixed martial artist with good abilities in most areas of the game. The can get it done pretty much anywhere.

Elkins, on the other hand, is more of a one-sided fighter. His biggest strength is his wrestling and grinding pressure on the cage.

Darren is well-known by hardcore fans for his heart and determination, and usually tends to wear the crimson mask at the end of his fights - something that rarely sways the judges in his favor.

I feel like Swanson will be far more technically sound on the feet, and unless Elkins manages to get takedowns in every round, I can’t see how he wins this fight on the scorecards.

Swanson has a good get-up game too with all that veteran experience.

The x-factor in this fight is the styles at play.

Swanson is a well-rounded guy with a good striking toolbox, and Elkins is mainly a wrestler.

In fights where Elkins faces an opponent that can nullify his wrestling however, he struggles.

His four-fight losing streak back in 2020 was primarily due to him being matched up against guys that could match him, or work around his takedown attempts. I believe Swanson can too.

All in all, Swanson has more paths to victory than Elkins. Darren is not dangerous from a distance - he needs top position to sink in the submission or ground and pound his way to a victory. The problem with that is, Swanson is savvy enough to scramble back to his feet.

Swanson takes this one and gets back in the win column. He will have the space to work effectively on the feet against Elkins.

Best Bet: Cub Swanson ML (-200)


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