UFC Fight Night Columbus: Blaydes vs. Daukaus Return with an Audience

Former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz has been forced out of his upcoming bout versus Aleksandar Rakic due to injury, leaving the headline bout on March 26 up for grabs. And with a fast response by UFC matchmakers, the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, will receive a heavyweight banger in its place.

No. 6 ranked heavyweight Curtis Blaydes (15-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) will meet No.10 ranked Chris Daukaus (12-4 MMA, 4-1 UFC) in the newly established main event of the evening.

Perhaps the most delightful news for bidding UFC fans is that President Dana White isn’t taking this Fight Night event back to the Apex Center in Las Vegas. Instead, it looks as if we’re going to see audiences return to Fight Night events for the first time since 2020.

Covid-19 restrictions have seen the UFC hold their weekly events at the UFC Apex – a small arena with limited attendees, mainly friends and family. And nearly two years to the date of when restrictions kicked in, a travelling UFC schedule looks to resume.

UFC pay-per-views have been exclusive for the opportunity of fans to attend live events since their return from Covid-19 protocols in 2021. Still, it’s Columbus, Ohio, who’ll have the pleasure of resuming a packed house full of fans on American soil.

The main event, in particular, offers a credible matchup between two bidding heavyweights who seek to extend their climb throughout the UFC heavyweight rankings. Sportsbooks throughout the U.S. haven’t yet released a betting line, but we should expect the oddsmakers to give Curtis Blaydes a significant advantage.

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I anticipate the most reputable sportsbooks, such as BetMGM Ohio, will receive a large number of wagers, as MMA fans can enjoy the live Fight Night action whilst betting for the favorite fighters for the first time in 24 months.

Many factors will favor Curtis Blaydes on the betting line, but let’s take a closer look at the two headline fighters heading into Fight Night Columbus.

Curtis Blaydes

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Blaydes’s journey into the world of mixed martial arts began on the wrestling mats of De La Salle Institute, where he obtained a 44-0 undefeated record and successfully captured the state championship.

Following his success in school at a senior and sophomore level, Blaydes aborted his education to focus solely on a career in MMA. Dominating the amateur MMA scene with an 8-0 record led him into the professional leagues, where he’s undefeated record resumed with a 5-fight consecutive streak, all via technical knockout.

Dana White and the UFC came calling, and the rest is history. Blaydes has now competed at the highest level for the promotion since 2016. Winning 10 of his scheduled 13 UFC bouts, the 31-year-old is relatively young in his career and owns a dominant base skillset to challenge for heavyweight gold in the future undoubtedly.

Chris Daukaus

32-year-old Chris Daukaus has risen through the UFC heavyweight rankings at an unprecedented rate. The Philadelphia native is an ex-police officer and initially practised MMA one year before enrolling with the police academy.

Daukaus represents the Martinez BJJ fight team and has fought his way through the regional MMA scene as a professional since 2013 to obtain a contract with the UFC in 2020 finally. Upon his arrival, Daukaus proved his worth with a round 1 TKO stoppage, and a four-fight win streak was snapped by the dangerous KO power of Derrick Lewis.

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Looking to bounce back just 12 weeks following his first UFC loss, Daukaus isn’t backing down the top-10 elite when facing the ever-dangerous Curtis Blaydes.

Blaydes vs. Daukaus Final Thoughts

While Daukaus has displayed a versatile and all-around MMA skill set, he’s going to be faced with an opponent in Blaydes whose wrestling foundation is problematic for most challengers to overcome.

Columbus, Ohio, will undoubtedly be gifted with a top-quality main event contest on March 26. Despite Daukaus being a worthy challenger, overlooking the likely outcome of Blaydes having his way in the wrestling department isn’t easy.

Outside of the UFCs two most potent strikers in Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis, no other heavyweight has managed to defeat Blaydes successfully. I anticipate this trend has a high chance of remaining.

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