It’s been one hell of a year for the UFC. From Dustin Poirier getting a title shot and losing out, to the ongoing demolition of the Welterweight division by Kamaru Usman and even the emergence of British MMA in the UFC - there’s narratives everywhere you look. And although this weekend’s event is the last of the year, the madness starts again in just a matter of weeks.
Headlining this week’s main event is the charming Derrick Lewis versus Philadelphian freestyle fighter Chris Daukaus, who is entering the bout on a four-fight win streak since making his Octagon debut back in August 2020. The former police officer has 11 KO wins in his career, with eight first round finishes. Accompany this with Derrick Lewis’s incredible boxing prowess and punching power and this fight has got ‘First-Round Stoppage’ written all over it.
Derrick Lewis is well known for his transition from boxing to MMA, after saying it was ‘much easier’ to be an MMA fighter as he wouldn’t need to stay fit constantly and that it would be more like a street fight. The Louisiana native isn’t wrong with his approach, with 20 knockouts on his record and the most knockouts in UFC heavyweight history. In fact he can make UFC history on Saturday night by breaking Vitor Belfort and Matt Brown’s record for most knockout victories in the history of the organisation (13).
Daukaus’ best bet on the night is to try and utilise his Brazilian jiu-jitsu in offence, but his defence is going to have to be fast and consistent if he wants to get up the rankings in this tough division.
The Fight Night’s big names don’t end there. Second on the bill is Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson vs Belal Muhammad, a fight that might be a hard watch but not due to lack of talent. ‘Wonderboy’ and Belal have reputations outside of the Octagon as two of the sport’s nice guys but pleasantries will undoubtedly be put aside for their fight.
This fight has a similar feel to the main event as well. Belal Muhammad is up-and-coming and looking to use a win against Thompson to elevate him to the title scene, where Stephen Thompson is clinging on to. For Thompson to find a victory to get himself back on track in 2021, it’s all about finding the right distance and range control to suit his karate style. A 'Wonderboy' win is always a good watch due to the nature of his style and how exciting he is.
Belal might be the more well-rounded out of the two of them but his risk-taking nature could make it a perfect fight for Thompson, who will be looking to throw plenty of kicks from the first opening bell. A good strategy might be for Belal to forfeit some protection by walking his opponent down, and keeping him pinned to the cage with clinches. The usual war of attrition from Muhammad is a difficult ask but it’s his best route to victory.
Also featured on the card is Amanda Lemos and Angela Hill, the latter stepping in on short notice, and whose winner is probably closer to a title fight than anyone else on the card. Raphael Assuncao is hoping to end his three-fight losing streak dating back to July 2018 against the unranked Ricky Simon.
Cub Swanson also steps into the cage for the 29th time in UFC/WEC events, the most appearances in the combined history of the featherweight divisions, facing the man with the most featherweight takedowns in history, Darren Elkins.
Coming up in the new year, Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze kick off the new year on January 15th before Francis Ngannou defends his heavyweight title against Interim champion Cyril Gane. The UFC is set to announce UFC London will be returning in March as well so keep your eyes open for that.
*18+ | BeGambleAware