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UFC Columbus: Blaydes vs Daukaus - Mar 26 🇺🇸


wandshogun09
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Posted (edited)

What’s this? A Fight Night but not at the Apex?! We’re off to Columbus, Ohio for this one.

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ESPN+ MAIN CARD
Curtis Blaydes vs Chris Daukaus

Joanne Wood vs Alexa Grasso

Matt Brown vs Bryan Barberena

Askar Askarov vs Kai Kara-France

Marc Diakiese vs Viacheslav Borshchev

Neil Magny vs Max Griffin 

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Sara McMann vs Karol Rosa

Danaa Batgerel vs Chris Gutierrez

Aliaskhab Khizriev vs Denis Tiuliulin

Jennifer Maia vs Manon Fiorot

David Dvorak vs Matheus Nicolau

Luis Saldana vs Bruno Souza 

 

I think at least the main card bout order is correct as I type this. The rest I’m not sure, going off Marcel Dorff’s listing. Not crazy about the main event but on the whole I think this is a very solid Fight Night. There’s a handful of potential corkers sprinkled throughout, can’t ask for much more than that really for a Fight Night.

 

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Curtis Blaydes vs Chris Daukaus headlines. Not the strongest main event but it’ll do, I guess. I’m expecting a bit of moaning about this as this card draws closer, we’ve seen some boring Blaydes fights in the past so the prospect of a 5 rounder here mightn’t go down well but whatever. The thing is, whether you like or dislike his style, Blaydes is good enough to where he really should be headlining cards.

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Outside of Ngannou and Miocic, he’s one of the best Heavyweights in the division. Him, Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis are good fighters who, at the very least, do a good job of gatekeeping the upper level so we never have to endure shitehawks like Jake Collier and the like in title fights. You might laugh at the thought of that but for anyone who was following MMA in the days of Justin Eilers and Gan McGee getting title shots, it’s no joke. You need that bit of quality at the top end. And in fairness to Blaydes, I think the boring reputation isn’t entirely accurate. Yeah he’s had a couple of dull fights, his 5 rounder with Alexander Volkov being the obvious example. But he also got a TKO over Junior Dos Santos and brutally stopped Alistair Overeem with elbows. He’s not a typically boring fighter. But if you’ve got no answers for his wrestling, he’s not against taking the path of least resistance and just grinding out a decision either. This is where Daukaus comes in. He’s 12-4 with 11 knockouts, 9 of them in the first round. He can whack a bit. But then you look him up and he’s also listed as a BJJ black-belt. Not only has he not submitted anyone in his MMA career, I don’t recall seeing him use his grappling at all yet. Now whether he’s one of those dodgy black-belts that would actually be a purple-belt in another gym, or whether his ground game is legit and it’s just remained his secret weapon up until now - who knows? Not doubting he’s legit, he just hasn’t shown his BJJ yet. His brother Kyle (current UFC Middleweight) is the complete opposite, most of his wins are via submission. This’ll likely be the fight where we finally see Daukaus’ ground game tested. Because you know what Blaydes is coming to do. And unless Daukaus lands a bomb, which could happen given his track record, he’s gonna have to work off his back a bit in this one. Bit of an odd matchup in a way though because Blaydes beat Jairzinho Rozenstruik last time out but Daukaus is coming off getting knocked out by the Black Beast. Sod trying to make sense of the Heavyweight division though. I just hope it’s not a snoozer.

 

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Joanne Wood vs Alexa Grasso. This should be a very enjoyable standup fight. Wood (still can’t get used to not calling her Calderwood) has that Muay Thai background, Grasso seems more of a boxer. It’s a fun one on paper. Wood’s one of my favourites, just seems like such a nice woman and I do generally like her fights. But it’s really not panning out for her results-wise. Every time she seems to be making some progress she hits a roadblock. She’s 35 now and coming off back-to-back losses, she got knocked down and submitted by Taila Santos in her last fight in November. Santos is now getting the next crack at Shevchenko. Just seems like Wood is destined to end her career as the ‘nearly woman’. Although, as much as it’d have been nice to see her get a title shot, I’d hate to see the beating Shevchenko would inflict on her. Small blessings, I suppose. Grasso’s 28 with a record of 13-3 and she comes into this fight off a couple of decision wins over Ji Yeon Kim and Maycee Barber. She’s got a really fan friendly style, had entertaining fights with Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Randa Markos early in her UFC career, and even dragged Carla Esparza to a FOTN in 2019! The timing seems to favour Grasso here but I think it’ll be exciting to watch regardless.

 

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Matt Brown vs Bryan Barberena. Buckle up for this one. It was supposed to go down in December but Brown got taken out with COVID. So glad they’ve rescheduled it. Should be absolute mayhem. Both love to get stuck in and have a wild and bloody scrap and neither seem to know how to move backwards once the knuckles start flying. Brown just turned 41 in January, not sure how much longer he’s up for doing this. Didn’t he already retire once and come back? He’s clearly not gonna be a contender, he never was gonna be, but make no mistake he’s still dangerous. Dhiego Lima found out the hard way last June.

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Just faceplanted him. Vicious knockout. Barberena’s gonna be hard to put down like that though. Anyone who’s seen Barberena’s fight with Vicente Luque won’t forget how tough ‘Bam Bam’ is in a hurry. And it took Luque until the dying seconds of the fight to put him away. Luque’s a beast and not far off title contention now but Barberena stood and went strike for strike with him in a dogfight. He’s hard as nails. Not sure how this goes. I’m guessing a lot of people will probably be favouring Brown here because he’s the more known name and has mixed with the Lawlers, Condits and Cerrones. But Barberena won’t be going away easily and Brown’s only wins the last few years have been over Lima (who I don’t really rate) and badly faded versions of Diego Sanchez and Ben Saunders. Granted, Barberena’s no world beater himself but I think he’s got more about him at this stage than that lot. Gonna be pure violence this one.

 

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Askar Askarov vs Kai Kara-France is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** for this card. Absolutely love this pairing and I’d say there’s actually a decent possibility that this ends up being a title eliminator. Really like the sound of this. I’ve been slow to get on board with Askarov, which I probably shouldn’t have been really because I bloody loved his fight with Brandon Moreno on one of the UFC’s Mexico cards a couple of years ago. I guess I mostly chalked up the awesomeness of it to Moreno at the time.

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I think Askarov is legit though. He’s 29 years old, from Dagestan and he’s undefeated at 14-0-1. The only ‘blemish’, if you can call it that, being the Moreno fight in 2019 which ended in a draw. But if you saw that fight you know it’s anything but a blemish. It was a fantastic fight. Aside from that, he was the first ever Flyweight champion in that ACB promotion in Russia. In the UFC he’s beaten Tim Elliott, Alexandre Pantoja and Joseph Benavidez. He’s also almost completely deaf! He’s looking like a serious potential problem on the Flyweight scene to me. In a division that doesn’t have that many strong wrestlers, Askarov could prove to be a real issue. He’s got his hands full here though.

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There’s Kai Kara-France becoming a lifelong babyface and favourite in the Wand family household, knocking Cody Garbrandt from pillar to post in their December fight. Proper smashed him up. It was beautiful. I already liked him before that, to be honest. He had some belting fights on the undercards against the likes of Tyson Nam, Brandon Moreno and Brandon Royval. Really fun fighter to watch and seems like a likeable laid back type. Seeing him smack Garbrandt around took it to another level though. This is a great fight here. Not sure what answers KKF will have for Askarov’s wrestling but we’ll see what happens. If there’s one thing going in the New Zealander’s favour in this one, it might be that Askarov hasn’t been very active recently. He’s been out a year now with injuries and Kara-France fought as recently as December. Head’s saying Askarov comes out on top and that could definitely make for some interesting matchups in the title picture, but I’d love to see KKF get the win here.

 

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Marc Diakiese vs Viacheslav Borshchev could’ve easily been my one to watch. Big fan of this matchup. This would’ve been perfect for the London card actually, not sure why they didn’t just do it a week earlier but what do I know? Diakiese seems like he’s been on the roster forever now but he’s still only 28 years old. He’s a guy I watch and always think he should be doing better than he is. It just hasn’t happened for him for whatever reason. Fun to watch though. He’s lost his last couple so he badly needs a W here. Usually I’d be rooting for him but he’s up against this weird sod…

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Can’t root against Slava Claus! I’d never heard of him before his appearance on DWCS late last year. I only tuned in because I was curious to see fellow Brummie Jake Hadley on there but I came away as a fan of Slav more than anything. Just a stupidly likeable chap and he looks like he’s gonna be worth keeping tabs on in the cage as well. He’s 6-1 with 5 stoppages and after his knockout on DWCS, he made his UFC debut in January and won with a nasty body shot finish inside a round. Not saying he’ll go on to be a UFC champion or anything but I think at the very least he’s gonna be one of those fighters who will make an exciting fight with pretty much anyone, wherever they are on the card. Style-wise, this could be quite the battle of strikers as well. Really looking forward to it.

 

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Neil Magny vs Max Griffin. Can’t say this does much for me. Magny’s one of those fighters that I recognise is skilled and a tough fight for a lot of guys, but I just don’t find him enjoyable to watch. Similar kind of thing I was saying about Katlyn Chookagian recently. They get results more often than not so I can’t even really knock them. But fuck me, they’re no fun. Like I say though, he’s mostly effective and he’ll beat a good chunk of the division. He has wins over Geoff Neal, Robbie Lawler, Li Jingliang, Carlos Condit, Kelvin Gastelum, Johny Hendricks and Hector Lombard. I mean, that’s an impressive resume by anyone’s standards. But you ask me to give you any single detail about any of those fights and there’s just nothing I remember at all. Griffin’s alright. 18-8 coming off 3 wins and beat the shell of Condit last time out. I don’t know though. He just seems like another win on the record for Magny to me. Hopefully he can drag something watchable out of it but if Lawler couldn’t then my hopes for this aren’t too high.

 

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Sara McMann vs Karol Rosa. Not sure about this. McMann is 41 now and has put so many miles on her body when you factor in her amateur wrestling career as well. She went as far as winning silver at the 2004 Olympics and went undefeated in MMA until she ran into Ronda Rousey in 2014. Since then it’s been very up and down, stop and start. Since the loss to Rousey she’s gone 5-5 and has now lost 3 of her last 4. Age, injuries and just general wear and tear are surely the main factors. And even now, she’s coming into this fight off a year-plus layoff. Rosa’s the much younger woman at 27. She’s 15-3 and has won 6 on the bounce now but mostly against subpar opponents. She beat Bethe Correia by decision in October but I don’t recall her looking anything special even against Correia, who’s crap and had one foot in retirement going in. Don’t know. I like McMann, it’d be nice to see her pick up a win here and I don’t think Rosa’s much cop, but my confidence in McMann isn’t exactly high at this point. Rosa might end up retiring another one here.

 

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Danaa Batgerel vs Chris Gutierrez could be a sleeper on this card actually. Neither are well known but they both like a scrap. Batgerel is Mongolian, 12-2 with 10 finishes and has stopped his last 3 UFC opponents in the first round. Gutierrez is from Boston, 17-4-2 and has won 5 of his last 6. I’m basing it on limited footage I’ve seen but I’d expect a lively one here. Batgerel especially has stood out to me, he can definitely bang a bit. Neither probably ever go far above the level they’re at now but for the prelims, it’s a good little matchup.

 

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Aliaskhab Khizriev vs Denis Tiuliulin. Never seen either fight before but I’m kind of intrigued by this. Both making their UFC debuts here. Khizriev signed a good while back now but his debut has been delayed a bunch of times for one reason or another. He’s undefeated at 13-0 with 9 submissions. He was on DWCS. Oh, and he has a 58 second knockout on his record over leg locking nutjob Rousimar Palhares.

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I just watched the fight on YouTube and he was doing a good job of avoiding the leg locks before that as well. He obviously knows his grappling. I’m curious to see what he can do. You never know with these unbeaten Russians. Some end up being exposed and it becomes clear they were just benefitting from a padded record but most of them turn out to be legit. If nothing else, this guy at least seems to have a solid foundation to start with. Tiuliulin (I don’t think I’ll ever get used to spelling that) is also Russian, 9-5 with 8 knockouts. Hasn’t fought anyone you’d know. On paper this very much looks like a grappler vs slugger match but we’ll see.

 

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Jennifer Maia vs Manon Fiorot. It’s OK, I guess. I’m usually completely indifferent and uninterested in Maia’s fights but I’m kind of into this one just because I like what I’ve seen of Fiorot so far and this is a bit of a step up for her. She’s 8-1 with her only loss being a split decision in her MMA debut against Leah McCourt back in 2018. Since then she’s won 8 straight, 3 in the UFC, and she’s looking like a handful. Her striking is good and she looks big and strong for Flyweight. Surprised she actually makes 125, to be honest. Looks good. We just need to see her in with more tried and tested opposition. Maia provides that. She’s nothing amazing but she’s had 28 fights and been in with Shevchenko, Chookagian, Modafferi, Calderwood etc. She’s experienced and has mixed with champs and contenders. She’s built like a little tank as well so it’ll be interesting to see how Fiorot does with that. She’s had the strength advantage in all her UFC fights so far but that mightn’t be the case this time. Hopefully Fiorot wins and looks good in the process because Flyweight could do with all the new blood it can get at the moment.

 

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David Dvorak vs Matheus Nicolau. I’m vague on both of these two. Dvorak is Czech, 20-3 with 16 finishes and he’s on a 16 fight winning streak. He’s won 3 fights in the UFC so far but hasn’t faced anyone who stands out yet. Nicolau’s Brazilian, 17-2-1 with wins over Manel Kape and Tim Elliott in his last 2 fights. He’s also beat Louis Smolka and John Moraga. He’s definitely got more quality wins than Dvorak but you never know. Maybe Dvorak’s the real deal and just waiting for his breakthrough opportunity.

 

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Luis Saldana vs Bruno Souza. Pretty much going in completely blind on this one. They’re both quite new to the UFC and I’m not even sure I’ve seen either of them fight yet. A quick look on Sherdog tells me that Saldana is 15-7 with 14 finishes. Won a decision off Jordan Griffin in his UFC debut, lost a decision to Austin Lingo in his next outing. Souza’s 10-2 with only 3 finishes. Former LFA champ, and a Lyoto Machida protégé apparently. He lost on points to Melsik Baghdasaryan in his first trip to the Octagon in November. That’s about it on both.

 

That’s me done. 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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i know the UFC always favours the heavyweights, but Askarov/Kara-France could really have done with top billing here, a 5 rounder to determine a number 1 contender, that's how it should be done.

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Definitely. And Askarov vs Kara-France will most likely be a much better fight as well. Fight Nights to me really should be the place you highlight your next contenders, give them that 5 round experience and get people used to seeing them in main events. Askarov vs Kara-France is a perfect example of that. Blaydes vs Daukaus would’ve been fine here as co-main under that one. 

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, the 5 round main event thing is pointless the way they do it. In an ideal world I think a fight should be 5 when 2 top 10 ranked fighters fight each (though top 5 is more realistic), main event or not.

Now i know Blaydes & Dakaus are both top ranked top 10, but that isnt the reason why its got 5 rounds here, its simply because the UFC have put it as the main event. If you go by my way of thinking, why not have both Blaydes/Daukas and Kara-France/Askarov over 5 on the same show? if it hinders the TV scheduling, drop an extra fight to the prelims and bring back a float fight.

If not that, it should be when the UFC deems it a number one contender fight, add stakes to the fight. Outside of that, there's no real reason for main events to be 5 rounds.

 

 

Edited by Egg Shen
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Yeah I like that. Updated the opening post now and done a little preview for the Aliaskhab Khizriev vs Denis Tiuliulin fight that just got added last minute.

Seeing a lot of negativity online about this being a ‘weak card’ and stuff but I think the main card looks really good here myself. I think a lot of people are just judging this one off the main event and, yeah, it’s not the best. But on the whole I like this card a lot. If you can’t find something to like about a card featuring Brown vs Barberena, Askarov vs KKF, Diakiese vs Slava, Grasso who’s usually always in entertaining fights, the debut of unbeaten submission artist Khizriev etc, you don’t deserve MMA. For a Fight Night this is a pretty sweet little card. 

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