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UFC Odds, Pick, Prediction: Derrick Lewis vs. Chris Daukaus Betting Preview (Saturday, Dec. 18)

UFC Odds, Pick, Prediction: Derrick Lewis vs. Chris Daukaus Betting Preview (Saturday, Dec. 18) article feature image
Credit:

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Derrick Lewis.

  • Derrick Lewis is a slight underdog on Saturday night against Chris Daukaus.
  • The 'Black Beast' lost last time out to Ciryl Gane, while Daukaus has quickly risen to No. 7 in the UFC heavyweight division.
  • Sean Zerillo breaks down the matchup and makes his betting pick below.

Lewis vs. Daukaus Odds

Lewis Odds
+125
Daukaus Odds
-145
Over/Under
1.5 (-130 / +100)
Venue
UFC APEX
Time
Approx. 9:30 p.m. ET
Channel
ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings.

On Saturday, the UFC will close out its 2021 schedule with a top-10 heavyweight matchup between No. 3 contender Derrick Lewis and No. 7 Chris Daukaus at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

The betting market doesn’t expect this fight to last that long, however, with current odds sitting at -450 (81.8% implied) to end inside of the distance.

Lewis has a chance to set the UFC knockout record on Saturday (currently tied with Matt Brown at 12). Of 34 career fights for the Houston native, 28 (82.3%) have ended inside the distance, including each of his five-round encounters.

Daukaus has only gone the distance once in his 15 professional fights (93% finish rate), which is also the only time he has seen the third round. The Philadelphia-based fighter is 4-0 in the UFC with all of his wins by knockout in seven minutes or less.

Heavyweights possess the highest finishing rate in MMA (72.8% in the UFC) and as a result, it isn’t easy to favor either fighter in this matchup to a significant degree.

Below, I’ll provide my analysis and projections for Saturday’s main event and reveal my play for Lewis vs. Daukaus.

Tale of the Tape

Lewis Daukaus
Record 25-8-1 12-3-0
Avg. Fight Time 9:45 3:23
Height 6’3″ 6’3″
Weight (pounds) 265 lbs. 235.5 lbs.
Reach (inches) 79″ 76″
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Date of birth 2/7/85 9/25/89
Sig Strikes Per Min 2.49 9.03
SS Accuracy 50% 53%
SS Absorbed Per Min 2.48 3.40
SS Defense 41% 64%
Take Down Avg 0.49 0.00
TD Acc 25% 0%
TD Def 55% 100%
Submission Avg 0.0 0.0

His opponents change, but Lewis remains the same in almost every fight. “The Black Beast” is typically losing until he wins.

It doesn’t matter who Lewis is fighting — or how many minutes he is losing — one right hand can change the outcome in all of his matchups.

After losing for the better part of 3 rounds and being at a 82 significant strike differential, Derrick Lewis puts Alexander Volkov's lights out with only 11 seconds left. #UFCVegas6 pic.twitter.com/ANI0knapt2

— Birks (@BirksMMA) August 7, 2020

The Alexander Volkov fight is quintessential Lewis. The American trailed the Russian 121-39 on significant strikes and was well on his way to a decisive loss via decision before his Hail Mary knockout.

Despite oft-concerning body language, Lewis retains his power deep into fights, which helps to keep the door open for comeback victories.

Lewis is not a technical striker, and he’s a complete headhunter. Still, his powerful presence tends to neutralize the output of his opponents, as seen in his positive strike differential (+0.01 per minute) despite horrific defense (41%).

Lewis is also a poor defensive wrestler (55% takedown defense), but he remains incredibly strong — even in the bottom position — and has essentially shucked off every grappler (except for Daniel Cormier) by merely standing up because Lewis is seemingly immune to jiu-jitsu.

Daukaus is a BJJ blackbelt, but we haven’t seen him employ any takedowns at the UFC level, unlike his brother, Kyle.

Moreover, Lewis will have upwards of a 30-pound weight advantage in the cage. Even if Daukaus manages to take him down, I doubt that he can maintain positional control for any significant period.

As a result, I expect to see a relatively low-volume kickboxing match between these two fighters, where a cautious Daukaus (three-inch reach disadvantage) has to use his speed advantage to close the distance, land his shots and get back out of harm’s way.

All of the technical skill advantages point to Daukaus. Still, Lewis is an anomaly who has competed against the best heavyweights in the world for nearly a decade. Daukaus has shown vulnerability in his striking defense, despite the excellent metrics (64%).

Daukaus is theoretically taking a significant step up in competition in this spot. Still, more importantly, he doesn’t put in the type of attritional bodywork that has hurt Lewis in the past.

Lewis doesn’t typically get hurt early in fights, especially with punches to the head. You need to wear hooks and front kicks on his body to make him want to quit, which essentially happened in his last fight against Ciryl Gane. I don’t see enough of that attritional work coming from the Daukaus side unless he changes his approach and shows new techniques.

Additionally, Daukaus has some questions to answer regarding his cardio. A pair of second-round knockout losses on the regional scene — when all of your wins are early finishes — doesn’t typically bode well for the long-term potential of a UFC fighter.

There’s a chance that if Daukaus gets extended — something which hasn’t happened yet at the UFC level — he might completely gas out and look like a broken fighter.

I expect Daukaus to win minutes early in this fight, but anything beyond the first seven to 10 minutes could get sloppy and weird. And considering the power and size differential, I’m unsure of Daukaus’ early finishing upside.

As a result, Daukaus’ win condition might be tied to a late-round attritional finish or low-volume decision victory, both of which are predicated on the outstanding questions to resolve regarding his conditioning.

From a stylistic perspective, this seems like a decent matchup for Lewis. He has a significant size (likely closer to 40 pounds after rehydrating) and power advantage and prefers to counterpunch, while Daukaus, who is hittable, will undoubtedly come forward.

Moreover, I suspect that Daukaus won’t have much, if any, grappling success — despite superior accolades — and I’m uncertain that he has the cardio advantage, while we know Lewis carries his power late.

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Lewis vs. Daukaus Pick

Typically, I bet fighters who I project as minute winners in their fights and stray away from finish-reliant sides, but that approach changes in the heavyweight division, specifically in Derrick Lewis fights.

Daukaus may look like he’s winning this bout until his lights go out. If you bet the favorite and he loses in that fashion, you might consider it a bad beat from an optics perspective.

However, that’s the majority of Lewis’s win condition in almost any matchup. For the reasons I laid out above — namely the cardio questions on the Daukaus side — I see this as a decent stylistic matchup for Lewis in his secondary opportunity to gain sole possession of the UFC knockout record.

I projected Lewis’s odds closer to +110 (47.6% implied), and I would bet his moneyline down to +116 at a 2% edge.

I also show slight value on the Fight to End Inside the Distance (projected -460, listed -450), but there’s not enough value there to make a play, and I couldn’t get a good feel on the total for this fight — again, because it’s all tied to Daukaus’s cardio, durability, and attritional offense.

I suppose there’s a path where Daukaus stays on the outside and expertly picks apart Lewis for the duration without finishing him, or where Lewis wins a cautious and low-volume affair with a couple of knockdowns. I don’t want to be sweating a chalky ticket in that instance.

As a result, I’m not going to get greedy and target Lewis by KO/TKO (listed +175, projected +149) or by finish (projected +134, listed +165) for a slightly improved payout, even though I show value on those props. Ultimately, I set a finish as 90% of Lewis’ win condition.

We’ll stick with a small moneyline play on the power-punching underdog.

Pick: Derrick Lewis (+125)

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