The final UFC card of 2021 is on deck, and the main event features two top ten heavyweights looking to put on a show and position themselves in future title talks. A fan favorite, #3 Derrick Lewis takes on the rising prospect #7 Chris Daukaus in the night’s main event, scheduled for five rounds, yet probably won't make the final bell. Both are known for their knockout power, and it's very apparent what we are in store for, as the UFC looks to head into the holiday season as we prepare to kick off 2022 after one last stacked card.
DATE: SATURDAY 12/18/21
VENUE: UFC APEX
LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nevada
THE MAIN CARD
Chris Daukaus has taken a leave from his duties as a police officer to make a serious run at this heavyweight belt. After entering the UFC less than two years ago and winning four straight via knockout, he now gets a serious step up in competition as he will be staring across the octagon at #3 ranked “The Black Beast” Derrick Lewis. To put a wrap on the 2021 UFC season, the main event will feature two knockout machines up at 265, and it's highly likely the match doesn't see a full 25 minutes. While Derrick Lewis is no stranger to these high-profile spots, Daukaus will be making his first main event walk, and it's against one of the most dangerous men in the org. After winning four straight, Derrick Lewis will look to get back on track after dropping his last fight against Ciryl Gane, in a fight where he looked flat and had just a tough time getting going against the technical forward press of Gane. Lewis is known for his very low output, but when he pounces, it's typically an immediate defensive retreat on the other side for good reason. Lewis holds the UFC record in the heavyweight division, with 12 knockouts and counting heading into this one. For Daukaus, he looks to continue the trend, as he’s won five straight via knockout himself, including four during his UFC career, which has now landed him a renewed contract.
It's hard to look past the fact that this is new territory for the very green Daukaus. Making his first main event walk under the bright lights always comes with a very busy media week with that mug on the poster. Pressure rises and so do the questions about how victory will be achieved, especially against the well-known former title contender. Although Daukaus is very active on the feet historically (9.03 SLpM), I suspect he will be noticeably more cautious in this one. Yes, Lewis struggled connecting with Gane, but Daukaus has shown us a lack of elusiveness while engaging. You have to consider that this has been somewhat of a ramp-up in competition as he's faced in the UFC the lackluster Parker Porter, followed up by two grapplers and a 40-year old heading down the hill of his career. Daukaus has lost three times, and all three have come by knockout. Sure, a knockout loss to Azunna Anyanwu is respectable, but he was finished by 0-0 and 1-1 fighters before that.
Although I expect Lewis to be his usual self, playing possum and staying patient, I see this one with some eventual fireworks inside of 1.5 rounds. Daukaus will stay as cautious as possible, but I suspect the autopilot kicks into gear, and these two get going in that first round. Historically, if Lewis is down in the first on the cards, he comes out fast in the second. With an average flight time of fewer than two rounds for Lewis and just over three minutes total for Daukaus, I see the trend continuing, and I have to side with the more experienced of the two with Derrick Lewis getting this one done.
Prediction: Derrick Lewis
Bet: Derrick Lewis by TKO/KO +175 (only playing prop, not ML)
Bet: Lewis/Daukaus UNDER 2.5 -175
Did I see these two giving each other piggybacks earlier this week? I’m not surprised. Stephen Thompson and Belal Muhammad, two very class acts, and unfortunately, one has to lose come Saturday night. Thompson is getting up there in age and probably needs this win if he has any hopes for a title shot in the future. He's gone 2-3 in his last five and dropped a decision to Gilbert Burns back in July. After the accidental eye poke, Muhammad has won five straight, removing the no-contest against Leon Edwards back in March. He came back after that fight and dominated Demian Maia as he showed his obvious advantage on the feet, which will be less apparent against the former 58-0 kickboxer. Although Thompson lost his last match against Burns, who landed three clean takedowns in the fight, his prior losses against Pettis and Till were unfortunate. Pettis was substantially down in the fight, bloodied up and in “showtime” fashion, landed a punch from a distance, dropping and finishing Thompson out of nowhere. Till, I thought, lost the decision, but in Liverpool, you knew some funny judging would come to light. Anyhow, Muhammad was getting lit up against Leon Edward before the poke, and you'd have to think Wonderboy should be able to do more of the same. I expect a very close fight, more than likely going to a decision (maybe even split) in favor of Wonderboy.
Prediction: Stephen Thompson
Amanda Lemos has looked fantastic after dropping her UFC debut, rattling off four straight wins, including three finishes against some tough foes. Angela Hill is always game, and as she’s a tougher out than her 13-10 record assumes, I expect a very honest effort from her here, as she’s been somewhat ripped off in some very close fights over the last year or so. Hill will look to her volume to outperform the power shots from Lemos. Now, if Lemos struggles on the feet, we will undoubtedly see her get this one to the mat, working the takedowns when needed. Hill has shown some improved defense, but if she can avoid it, her questioning the advances will only open her up for the shots upstairs. Give me the decision prop against a very durable Hill, although that submission prop looks enticing.
Prediction: Amanda Lemos
Bet: Lemos via DEC +100 (don’t lay -300)
Is Father Time going to weigh-in again here in this one? The 39-year-old Assuncao now has lost three straight, with two via finish. Here he faces Simon, who will be 10 years younger, and we should see the speed difference very apparent out of the shoots. Simon can mix his power shots upstairs while always pressing for the takedowns, landing six or more in each of his last four fights. Although I see Assuncao possibly having his moments, I believe Simon will have his way, securing a path to a dominant decision win.
Prediction: Ricky Simon
Bet: Pass (parlay worthy)
This will be a great fight with Diego Ferreira in a must-win spot after dropping two straight, facing a white-hot Mateusz Gamrot, who’s fresh off two straight finishes against two very tough opponents in the likes of Jeremy Stephens and Scott Holtzman. On the feet, Ferreira is live, but I believe Gamrot will have his way with the takedowns and control. Ferreira has struggled with the takedowns in the past, and that won't fare well against a guy like Gamrot, who has shown no issues taking down his opponents at will so far during his UFC run. This will be the difference-maker, and the grappling should wear on the gas tank of Ferreira, and although it could be close early, Gamrot will pull away.
Prediction: Mateusz Gamrot
Two old dogs look to get down, and you can expect a very entertaining scrap as the main card kicks off Saturday night. "The Damage" Darren Elkins bleeds in every fight, with tons of scar tissue from past wars, which always puts him in predicaments to sway judges the wrong way. His ability to weather the storm is like no other, and the guy just never quits. Cub Swanson would be a huge win for Elkins here. Swanson owns victories over last weekend's main eventers, Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier, and will look to get back on track after getting finished by a very dangerous Giga Chikadze last May. Cub is just 2-5 in his last seven fights, and as we know, he's a very engaged father with his young tikes, yet always comes in fight ready and never looking for an out. Cub will be the much more accurate and busier fighter on the feet, eventually pushing Elkins to head in for the takedowns. Elkins should have some issues, though, as Cub has successfully defended 13 of the last 15 attempts against him, forcing his opponents to stand and engage. Elkins has two consecutive finishes coming into this fight, but they are against guys with a combined 87% finish rate in their losses. The only path to victory I see for Elkins here is if he can lock in a choke on Cub. Cub has tapped fairly quickly in the past when in a predicament, but his ability to avoid and control positions should be more in play here against the less elusive Elkins.
Prediction: Cub Swanson
GERALD MEERSCHAERT defeats DUSTIN STOLTZFUS
RAONI BARCELOS defeats VICTOR HENRY
JUSTIN TAFA defeats HARRY HUNSUCKER
SEJARAH EUBANKS defeats MELISSA GATTO
CHARLES JOURDAIN defeats ANDREW EWELL
MACY CHIASSON defeats RAQUEL PENNINGTON
DON’TALE MAYES defeats JOSH PARISIAN
JORDAN LEAVITT defeats MATT SAYLES
Derrick Lewis by TKO/KO +175 (only playing prop, not ML)
Lewis/Daukaus UNDER 2.5 -175
Lemos via DEC +100 (don’t lay -300)
Meerschaert (look via SUB +180)
Add Leavitt +237
Add Lemos +350
2021 predictions: 287-176-8 (62%)
2021 wagers: 157-130-1 (55%)
Overall record on SI:
Predictions: 668-374-19 (64%)
Wagers: 367-217-9 (63%)
Good luck everyone and I hope to see some of you cashing after Saturday night! Follow me on Twitter at @Y2Casey.
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