UFC Columbus Report: Curtis Blaydes knocks out Chris Daukaus

Originally published at UFC Columbus Report: Curtis Blaydes knocks out Chris Daukaus

UFC Columbus Report: Curtis Blaydes knocks out Chris Daukaus

By: Eric Marcotte

On Saturday evening, the UFC returned to the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio for a Fight Night event. The card was headlined by a bout between two ranked heavyweights, as the fourth-ranked fighter in the division, Curtis Blaydes, faced the ninth-ranked Chris Daukaus. Blaydes rebounded from a brutal loss against Derrick Lewis last year with a win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik and was looking to reassert himself as a contender by beating Daukaus here, who was coming off of a stoppage loss to Derrick Lewis himself. Blaydes would be a very tough test for Daukaus on paper, but a win over him with catapult Daukaus into the top five of the division, effectively erasing the result of his last bout. The co-main event featured two more highly ranked fighters, as Alexa Grasso was matched up against Joanne Wood in a flyweight matchup. Additionally, Askar Askarov fought for the first time in over a year, challenging Kai Kara-France in a bout that would likely determine the next title challenger at 125lbs.

The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik, Daniel Cormier, and Michael Bisping. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Curtis Blaydes and Chris Gutierrez. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Bryan Barberena and Matt Brown.


*Luis Saldana def. Bruno Souza by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Matheus Nicolau def. David Dvorak by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Manon Fiorot def. Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

*Aliaskhab Khizriev def. Denis Tiuliulin by rear-naked choke at 1:58 of Round 2

*Chris Gutierrez def. Danaa Batgerel by TKO at 2:34 of Round 2

*Sara McMann def. Karol Rosa by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Marc Diakiese def. Viacheslav Borshchev by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

*Neil Magny def. Max Griffin by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

*Kai Kara-France def. Askar Askarov by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Bryan Barberena def. Matt Brown by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

*Alexa Grasso def. Joanne Wood by rear-naked choke at 3:57 of Round 1

*Curtis Blaydes def. Chris Daukaus by TKO at 0:17 of Round 2


Saldana attacked the lead leg of Souza while circling the cage throughout the opening minute. Souza pressured forward, throwing a big right hook whenever Saldana attempted to close the distance (which were the most impactful strikes of the round). Late in the round, Saldana secured a takedown and worked from his opponent’s back temporarily, and while he wasn’t able to maintain the position for the remainder of the round, he had no troubles in bringing Souza back down, thus ending the round with momentum on his side. 10-9 Souza.

Souza continued to be the aggressor in round two, seemingly unconcerned with Saldana’s power in response. This aggression allowed Saldana to create an opportunity to bring the fight back to the ground, which he did with just under three minutes to work in the round. Saldana appeared to be working for an inverted triangle of sorts, but he was unsuccessful, and Souza escaped against the cage once again. Souza went back on the attack on the feet, and Saldana seemed to be getting overwhelmed by the pressure from his opponent by the late stages of this round. 20-18 Souza.

The third round of this fight was rather slow at times. Both fighters were throwing one punch at a time, leading to the same sequence playing itself out on the feet over and over again, with Souza throwing big right hands, and Saldana responding while circling the cage. With a minute to go, this was really anyone’s round, and both men must have realized this because they stepped on the gas pedal late. Saldana taunted before going on the attack, throwing combinations of punches that were landing flush more often than not. Souza was falling behind, but he was able to fire back late and had Saldana caught against the cage, throwing short elbows and hooks at his opponent as time expired in the round. 29-28 Souza.

WINNER: Luis Saldana by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

I was somewhat surprised to see all three judges score the fight for Saldana, but this was by no means a robbery. Souza pressured forward throughout the fight and was seemingly the busier fighter, but the judges must have weighed Saldana’s late takedowns in the first round heavily. Saldana was smart to pick up the aggression in the final minute of the bout, as in all likelihood, that spurt of activity ultimately decided the fight on the scorecards. Saldana improved to 2-1 in the UFC with this win.


The crowd showered the fighters in boos after a grand total of thirty seconds of inactivity. In fairness to the audience, four and a half minutes later, the fight had yet to pick up. Nicolau circled the cage and occasionally caught Dvorak with a strong counter hook as he attempted to close the distance. That was enough to win him this round, given the fact that nothing else happened throughout these five minutes. 10-9 Nicolau.

The second round began at a similar place, although both men were slightly more active. Nicolau was falling behind on the strike count but would crack Dvorak with a powerful counter hook on occasion to make up ground on the scorecards. In the final minute of the round, Nicolau threw a left hook to the temple of Dvorak that landed clean, and Dvorak was rocked badly. He stumbled to the ground, and Nicolau followed him down, where he cut Dvorak open with an elbow before time in the round expired. 20-18 Nicolau.

Nicolau landed another strong left hook to begin round three, putting Dvorak on the retreat temporarily. Dvorak recovered, and he attempted to create opportunities for himself by closing the distance with combinations and by attempting takedowns, but Nicolau was largely wise to Dvorak’s attempts and remained a step ahead of his opponent. Nicolau rolled for a leg lock during a late scramble, but couldn’t find it, and ultimately found himself on his back, with Dvorak working from top position. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 29-28 for Nicolau.

WINNER: Matheus Nicolau by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

The first nine minutes of this fight were absolutely brutal, with very little activity from either fighter, but the drama picked up after the knockdown, leading to a busier third round. Nicolau is a very talented fighter, but he often finds himself in these very close fights, which have kept him from advancing in the division at the rate at which a ranked fighter with a 6-1 promotional record typically would. Nicolau has now won eleven of his last twelve fights, and he called for a top-five opponent in his post-fight interview.

JENNIFER MAIA (19-8-1, 126) VS MANON FIOROT (8-1, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT

Referee Herb Dean received a massive reaction from the crowd as he was introduced. Fiorot attacked the body early, as Maia looked to find a home for her right hand. A left hook from Maia got Fiorot’s attention, prompting Fiorot to fire back with a left of her own. Fiorot continued to fire kicks to the lead leg and body of Fiorot, controlling the ranged battle with her reach advantage. Maia landed a head kick in the final minute, and Fiorot shot for a takedown in response, to no success. 10-9 Fiorot.

Fiorot threw Maia to the ground just moments into the second round, where she began to work from the guard of her opponent. Maia nearly caught her in a leg lock, which led to the fight going back to the feet, before Maia started looking for a takedown of her own. Maia was close, but Fiorot turned into top position before they hit the ground, maintaining dominant position. Maia popped back to her feet, and she cracked Fiorot with another clean head kick. This was a tough round to score, but I thought Fiorot narrowly edged it out, despite the big moments from Maia. 20-18 Fiorot.

Maia was hunting for takedowns in the third round, after seemingly being more willing to stand and trade throughout the previous two rounds. Fiorot had not deviated from her strategy of attacking the body and legs with kicks from range, chipping away at her opponent while keeping Maia from closing the distance. Maia was largely unsuccessful in bringing the fight back to the ground, so she began to look for a finishing blow on the feet as the round progressed, throwing her strikes with clear power. Despite Maia fighting with aggression, Fiorot seemed to be a step ahead on the feet, and I saw this round for her as well. 30-27 Fiorot.

WINNER: Manon Fiorot by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

Fiorot was a massive favorite on the betting lines going into this fight, but this was a far more competitive bout than the odds or the scorecards would lead you to believe. Maia marked the toughest test of Fiorot’s career to this point in the UFC, and brought the fight to her for fifteen minutes, both on the feet as well as on the ground. Still, Fiorot passed the test, and will likely find herself ranked as a top-five flyweight fighter in the promotion when the rankings are next updated. Fiorot called out Katlyn Chookagian in her post-fight interview.


Tiuliulin connected with a straight right had to begin the fight, but it did not take long for Khizriev to get his opponent to the ground. Khizriev controlled him in this position for nearly two and a half minutes, landing a number of left hands before Tiuliulin escaped to his feet. Tiuliulin proceeded to turn this fight into a brawl, as he pressured forward with a combination of punches, forcing Khizriev to cover up and go on the retreat. Eventually, Khizriev began to fire back, leading to both men landing strong shots before time in the round expired.

The fight continued to play out on the feet in the second round, with some more wild exchanges of strikes scattered throughout the next two minutes. Eventually, Khizriev opted to take the fight back to the ground, however, and he immediately took the back of Tiuliulin, where he sunk in a rear-naked choke and secured the finish.

WINNER: Aliaskhab Khizriev by rear-naked choke at 1:58 of Round 2

Khizriev was originally scheduled to face Abusupiyan Magomedov on this card, but Tiuliulin was brought in on short notice after Magomedov was forced to withdraw. Despite taking the fight on short notice and being an astronomical underdog, Tiuliulin gave Khizriev quite the fight here. Tiuliulin created opportunities for himself by dragging Khizriev into some wild exchanges on the feet, which made for a very exciting bout while it lasted. After the fight, Khizriev made it clear that he intends to be a champion in the promotion, and stated that he is interested in cutting down to welterweight.


Gutierrez wasted little time in attacking the lead leg of Danaa with calf kicks, taking him off of his feet early. Danaa was having difficulties closing the range but constantly pressured forward in an attempt to get Gutierrez back into the cage. A right hand from Danaa got a reaction out of Gutierrez, but Gutierrez circled away before Danaa could follow the shot up with anything of significance. In the final minute of the round, Danna slammed Gutierrez to the ground, and he threw down strong ground and pound strikes to end the round.

Gutierrez began round two with a series of powerful kicks to the legs and body of Danaa. Danaa was spending a lot of time swinging at air here, and Gutierrez’s movement continued to give him issues. As Danna pressed forward, Gutierrez spun around and caught Danaa with a vicious spinning forearm, knocking him down hard. Gutierrez followed him to the ground and finished the bout with a number of elbows.

WINNER: Chris Gutierrez by TKO at 2:34 of Round 2

This was a tremendous knockout. Gutierrez had gone for the same move at the end of the first round, and it directly led to the takedown from Danaa that cost Gutierrez the round. He was undeterred by that outcome, however, and when he threw it again in the second round, Danna never saw it coming. This was the type of finish that Gutierrez needed to generate some buzz, and when you couple a highlight-reel knockout like this with his 6-1-1 UFC record, Gutierrez may very well find himself across the octagon from a ranked opponent in his next bout.


McMann threw a combination of punches before taking Rosa to the ground. McMann worked from half guard for several minutes, chasing a kimura, despite the awkward position. She maintained this position for the entirety of this round, easily taking the opening five minutes on the scorecards. 10-9 McMann.

McMann did not waste much time before taking Rosa back to the ground. This time, McMann worked from the back of her opponent, where she locked in a body triangle to trap Rosa in the position. McMann transitioned into an armbar attempt near the end of the round, but could not finish the submission before time expired. 20-18 McMann.

Rosa began the third round with an extreme level of aggression, but McMann was able to take her back to the ground within seconds. This time, Rosa was actually able to work her way back to the feet, but she couldn’t create the separation that she needed. Unable to separate, Rosa created a scramble in which she took top position, and she threw down ground and pound strikes in an attempt to secure the late finish. McMann was able to stay alive, and the fight ultimately went the distance. 29-28 McMann.

WINNER: Sara McMann by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

McMann’s wrestling was the difference-maker in this bout, as she dominated the first ten minutes of this one. Rosa came alive in the third round, fighting with a clear sense of desperation, but it was too little, too late, and there was no question as to which fighter would get their hand raised in victory as the scorecards were announced. McMann’s overall record in the UFC now stands at 7-6.


Diakiese shot for a takedown just seconds into the fight, and while it took him quite some time, he eventually took Borshchev down with two and a half minutes to work. Diakiese moved into Borshchev’s guard, and he was able to control him from top position until time expired in the round. 10-9 Diakiese.

Diakiese did not deviate from his game plan in the second round, quickly taking Borshchev back to the ground. Borshchev had no answers for Diakiese on the ground, and he was dragged back down every time that he attempted to return to his feet. Diakiese was not doing much damage, but he was dominating this fight on the ground, and exhausting his opponent in the process. 20-18 Diakiese.

The third round was identical to the previous one. Diakiese secured the takedown, and he continued to dominate this fight with his wrestling. Borshchev did his best to make it back to his feet but was dragged back down repeatedly, and this was another one-sided round. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 30-27 in favor of Diakiese.

WINNER: Marc Diakiese by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

Marc Diakiese absolutely dominated this fight with his wrestling. He had a clear game plan in mind here, and never deviated from it, controlling Borshchev on the ground throughout each round. Borshchev was tired after round one and didn’t have much to offer in the way of takedown defense throughout the later rounds. Diakiese is more well known for his striking than his grappling ability, but he has broken out the wrestling-heavy gameplans on occasion, and this was clearly the perfect time to utilize that grappling advantage. This was a much-needed win for Diakiese, who had lost his prior two bouts going into this one. His UFC record now stands at 5-5.


A right hand from Griffin backed Magny up in the opening minute. Griffin was finding a home for that right hand repeatedly, and a straight right hand knocked Magny down hard as he pressed forward. Griffin allowed Magny to return to his feet, and Magny was able to buy himself enough time as he circled the cage to recover. Once Magny had composed himself, he started moving forward in an attempt to make up some ground. This was a great first round for Max Griffin. 10-9 Griffin.

Magny continued to press forward in the single round until a nasty eye poke brought a pause to the action. Griffin landed a right hand as the action resumed, and followed that up with a powerful jab. Magny connected with a combination of straight right hands that shifted the momentum of the fight in his favor, before shooting for a takedown that Griffin defended. Magny poured on the offense late in the round, and partially landed a knee to the head before time expired. 19-19.

Magny pressed Griffin into the fence to begin the final round, where he chased after a takedown. Eventually, he was able to drag Griffin down, and Magny started to hunt for a rear-naked choke from the back of Griffin. The submission didn’t come, but Magny racked up a great deal of control time, and when Griffin finally escaped to his feet, Magny cracked him with a series of elbows and knees against the cage, before practically piledriving Griffin onto the top of his head in the final seconds of the bout. 29-28 Magny.

WINNER: Neil Magny by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

This was an entertaining fight. Griffin had Magny in a ton of trouble in the opening round, and if he didn’t allow Magny to recover after the knockdown, he may have very well secured the early finish. However, Magny recovered, and he began to pull away as the fight progressed. In his post-fight interview, Magny called out Khamzat Chimaev, who is currently scheduled to face Gilbert Burns in two week’s time. With this win, Magny tied Georges St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight divisional record for total wins.

ASKAR ASKAROV (14-0-1, 205.5) VS KAI KARA-FRANCE (23-9, 1 NC, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT

Kara-France showcased tremendous takedown defense in the early goings of this fight, but Askarov was eventually successful in taking Kara-France to the ground, where Askarov immediately took the back of his opponent. Kara-France got back to his feet, but could not shake Askarov off of his back, as Askarov had a body triangle locked in. Askarov began to look for the finish, as he tried to lock in a rear-naked choke, but the finish didn’t come, and Kara-France survived the round. 10-9 Askarov.

Kara-France cracked Askarov a couple of times in the opening minute of round two, but Askarov pressured him into the fence, where he immediately shot for a takedown and brought the fight back to his comfort zone. This time Kara-France was able to escape, and he tagged with Askarov with a series of left hooks against the cage after defending another takedown attempt. Askarov was clearly hurt, but would not go down, and swung back at Kara-France to buy himself some time to recover. Askarov recovered by the conclusion of the round, but this was a great round for Kara-France. 19-19.

The crowd was hot at the start of the third round, but an accidental low-blow from Askarov brought a momentary pause to the action just seconds into it. Askarov utilized the fence to climb onto Kara-France’s back, and he actually managed to sink in another body triangle, but Kara-France shook him off, and successfully defended Askarov’s next couple attempts to take him down. The remainder of the round played out on the feet, with both fighters finding small moments of success. With thirty seconds remaining in the fight, this still felt like anyone’s round, and Askarov shot for a takedown in an attempt to seal the deal. Kara-France defended the attempt, however, and created separation before time expired. 29-28 Kara-France.

WINNER: Kai Kara-France by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

While the London crowd from last week’s UFC event was very lively, the Columbus crowd for this fight may have been even hotter. Kara-France was a star to this crowd, and there was nothing that the audience wanted more than to see him get his arm raised in victory against Askar Askarov here. The first round was all Askarov, but Kara-France fired back in round two, completely swinging the momentum of the fight in his favor. Kara-France showcased some astounding takedown defense throughout this bout, and by keeping this fight on the feet, Kara-France was able to take Askarov out of his comfort zone and fight to his own strengths. Kara-France has now won three fights in a row and is likely to challenge the winner of Deiveson Figueiredo versus Brandon Moreno 4 for the UFC Flyweight Championship.


Barberena tagged Brown with a straight left hand as Brown stepped in, and followed that up with a right hand that landed cleanly. Brown took Barberena down with a body lock after kneeing him in the body, but Barberena was able to use the cage to stay out of danger and return to his feet. Brown landed a hard kick to the body, before going up top with a head kick that was partially blocked. Brown tripped Barberena to the ground late in the round and tried to swarm him with strikes as Barberena picked himself up. Barberena just ate the shots, before trading elbows with Brown to end the round.

Brown began the second round with another hard body kick, which he followed up with a pair of looping right hands that dug into the body as well. Barbera threw a series of leg kicks but was taken down once more against the cage. Barberena picked himself up, and the fighters traded wild shots against the cage, with Brown seemingly getting the better of the exchanges until Barberena caught him with an elbow that clearly hurt Brown. Barberena moved in for the finish, however, Brown was able to escape danger momentarily by taking Barberena back down, and by the time Barberena got back to his feet, Brown had recovered enough to fire back. Still, Brown was practically moving in slow motion throughout this final minute, and it was really his power that was still keeping him in this fight, as he was hurt and exhausted by the end of round two.

Brown continued to attack the body in round three, and the foot sweep that had found him success earlier in the fight was still catching Barberena off guard whenever he broke it out. Barberena and Brown were both cut open from elbows, and both men were very tired from the exhaustive pace at which they had been fighting at, but Brown’s wrestling was allowing him to stay a step ahead of Barberena for the vast majority of the round. There was not much wrestling to speak of in the final minutes of this fight though, as they brawled wildly, to the delight of the crowd. Both fighters were on the verge of being finished multiple times throughout this sequence, but ultimately it was Barberena who pulled ahead in the final seconds, connecting with a number of huge hooks to a rocked Matt Brown as time expired. This was an unbelievable round. 30-27 Barberena.

WINNER: Bryan Barberena by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

This was a wild fight, just as you would expect from these two fighters. Despite being 41 years of age, Brown is still a heavy hitter, and he created problems for Barberena with his wrestling, and consistent bodywork. The crowd was not happy with the decision, and mercilessly showered Barberena in boos as the result was read, but I thought Barberena did significantly more damage throughout the bout, and ultimately deserved the nod here. Somewhat surprisingly, this marked the first time that Barberena has won back-to-back fights since 2016 (where he beat Sage Northcutt and Warlley Alves).


Grasso brought the fight to the ground quickly, where she began to work from the guard of Wood. She was unable to do much with the position, and Wood escaped to her feet before going on the attack. Wood landed a spinning elbow, but she was taken down once more just moments later, and Grasso immediately took the back of Wood, where she locked in a rear-naked choke and forced Wood to submit.

WINNER: Alexa Grasso by rear-naked choke at 3:57 of Round 1

Wood was dragged to the ground following her spinning elbow, and Grasso secured the submission win moments later. For Grasso, this was a huge win, marking her first finish since 2014, but this was a very tough loss for Joanne Wood. Wood has struggled in the grappling department in the past, but this marked her third first-round submission loss in her last five bouts, and it is tough to say where she will go from here. Not long ago she was in line to challenge Valentina Shevchenko for the UFC Flyweight Championship, but three-consecutive losses have moved her out of title contention for the time being. Grasso on the other hand is riding a three-fight win streak and seemingly is on the best run of her UFC career to this point. Flyweight appears to be the right division for her, and it will be interesting to see her against the higher-ranked fighters in the division.


Daukaus caught Blaydes with a right hand in the opening minute, but Blaydes evened the score with one of his own moments later. Blaydes opened up a cut near the left eye of Daukaus, seemingly from a sharp jab he landed moments earlier. Daukaus picked up the aggression late in the round, punching through the guard of Blaydes, however, Blaydes did a good job of avoiding the bigger strikes. In the final seconds of the round, an eye poke from Blaydes paused the action momentarily.

In the opening minute of the second round, Blaydes landed a counter right hand that dropped Daukaus hard, and he swarmed him with ground and pound strikes until the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Curtis Blaydes by TKO at 0:17 of Round 2

Blaydes did not attempt a single takedown throughout this bout, marking a first for him since joining the UFC. We have seen him grow as a striker over the years, but to knock his opponent out with a perfect counter right hand as he did here, really shows just how far Blaydes has come as a complete fighter. Daukaus did not react well to Blaydes’ power early in the bout but knew he would have to take some risks to pull ahead in the fight. Unfortunately for him, this provided Blaydes with the opening he needed to finish the fight. In his post-fight interview, Blaydes asked for an interim title fight bout against Ciryl Gane and then proceeded to call out Stipe Miocic as well (who was in attendance). I think either of those matchups would be sensible next matchups for Blaydes (give or take the interim belt), as well as Tom Aspinall, who has recently cemented himself as one of the division’s top fighters as well.