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Preview: UFC Fight Night 199 ‘Lewis vs. Daukaus’

Lewis vs. Daukaus



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The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s last event of 2021 has arrived, and UFC Fight Night 199 on Saturday in Las Vegas features a solid six-bout main card with some recognizable names. Heavyweights take center stage, as Derrick Lewis looks to rebound from an unsuccessful interim title bid against Ciryl Gane and tries to stave off rising prospect Chris Daukaus. Beyond that, Stephen Thompson takes on Belal Muhammad in the co-main event and looks to keep his own championship window open after a rough loss to Gilbert Burns. Featherweight veterans Cub Swanson and Darren Elkins kick off festivities; top strawweight prospect Amanda Lemos seeks to announce herself as a true contender against Angela Hill; and Raphael Assuncao and Diego Ferreira attempt to snap out of disappointing slides. It should allow the promotion to close the year on a strong note.

Now to the UFC Fight Night 199 “Lewis vs. Daukaus” preview:

Heavyweights

#3 HW | Derrick Lewis (25-8, 16-6 UFC) vs. #7 HW | Chris Daukaus (12-3, 4-0 UFC)

ODDS: Daukaus (-140), Lewis (+120)

Lewis may have fallen short of his latest attempt at UFC gold in August, but if history is any indication, he cannot help but find himself back in the title picture before long. Heavyweight mixed martial arts is different, and “The Black Beast” puts that fact into stark contrast, as he has essentially laid the necessary components at heavyweight bare: Have enough durability to survive and crack your opponent with a knockout blow. At first, Lewis seemed like a bit of a sideshow, gaining some hype with a few wins before being exposed as a glass cannon in knockout losses to Matt Mitrione and Shawn Jordan. Then Lewis learned one simple change to his approach—patience—and everything clicked into place. Most heavyweight opponents would either provide the opportunity for a man as gigantic and sneakily explosive as Lewis to find an opening on the feet at some point or be frightened into wrestling and eventually exhaust themselves trying to control his massive frame. Add in Lewis’ considerable charisma and penchant for gold in his post-fight interviews, and the whole package scratches an itch of the heavyweight ideal, turning his fights into a mix of sloppiness and brutality that makes for some entrancing entertainment. Of course, things fall apart against the few heavyweight opponents with some high technical acumen, as demonstrated in Lewis’ two shots at a UFC championship. Daniel Cormier had the level of wrestling to make short work of Lewis, and an interim title fight over the summer saw Gane stay patient and pick Lewis apart on his way to a third-round stoppage. However, until Lewis slows down or grows tired of fighting, he has enough to take care of a perennially flawed division, and he now gets to test one of the leaders of heavyweight’s latest crop of prospects in Daukaus.

Daukaus’ rise to heavyweight relevance was not a guarantee despite a solid regional record. Daukaus does not stand out as an elite athlete, and a 2019 loss to Azunna Anyanwu raised the concern that the Philadelphian could be taken out of his game against any sort of resistance. It was even a bit surprising when he quickly dispatched Parker Porter in his UFC debut, though Daukaus has spent the ensuing year-plus making that result look obvious in retrospect. Daukaus has some sharp hands and looks to game plan well for his opponents, particularly by heavyweight standards. Against Rodrigo Nascimento and Alexey Oleynik, Daukaus avoided the wrestling game and starched them in short order. After what eventually turned into a one-sided win over Shamil Abdurakhimov—again via impressive knockout—Daukaus is clearly deserving of a shot at top-tier heavyweights, and he gets it in the UFC’s final event of 2021. Daukaus may have quick enough hands to knock out Lewis outright, but “The Black Beast” is historically easy to stun but hard to finish, making this a tough ask for the rising prospect. Daukaus does not have the type of range weapons that Gane or Junior dos Santos used to effectively pick Lewis apart, so at every point he manages to close distance and find some success, he is quite likely to find himself getting tagged back by something huge in return. Given each man’s track record thus far, that math seems to tilt very much in Lewis’ favor. The pick is Lewis via second-round knockout.

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