UFC Fight Night Columbus Results and Highlights

By Timothy James  |  March 27, 2022  |  341 Comments

The energy was electric in the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio for UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus.

This event had a tough act to follow. It was the next UFC Fight Night following UFC London, one of the best non-PPV events in UFC history. While it didn’t quite reach that level, UFC Columbus was still a solid card with great fights and an electric crowd that enhanced the atmosphere.

The Main Event: Blaydes vs. Daukaus

Curtis Blaydes and Chris Daukaus are two guys who were considered future top dogs in the UFC’s heavyweight division. They were both considered specialists, with Daukaus being a great boxer and Blaydes being the best wrestler in the division. The similarities don’t end there, as they were both victims of the UFC’s knockout king, Derrick Lewis.

Both men wanted to set out to prove that they are still two of the most promising fighters in the division. Curtis Blaydes had already found himself in title contention earlier in his career before confronting current champion Francis Ngannou and the aforementioned Lewis. He needed to showcase that he could evolve and take his game to the next level.

Blaydes did exactly that in UFC Columbus’ main event, finishing Chris Daukaus via technical knockout early in the second round. Blaydes was the favorite going into the fight, but many expected him to utilize his wrestling to neutralize the boxing of Daukaus. Instead, he showcased the strides he’s made in the striking department, proving the better man on the feet.

The heavyweight division is in an exciting place now, with more talent and excellent matchups to make than there has been in years. Blaydes proved that he’s still in the mix for becoming the UFC heavyweight champion at some point in the future, and the improvements he’s made in his striking make him one of the deadliest men in the division.

As for Daukaus, back-to-back knockout losses have put an impediment towards his championship aspirations. He’s still got great hand speed and crisp boxing, and could follow in Blayde’s footsteps of continuing to evolve. Don’t count him out just yet.

Fight of the Night: Matt Brown vs. Bryan Barberena

It’s a bit surprising that this wasn’t the co-main event considering that Matt “the Immortal” Brown was fighting in front of his hometown audience. The crowd wasn’t shy about letting their support for the longtime UFC veteran be known, filling the soundwaves with cheers for Brown and boos for his opponent, Bryan Barberena.

On paper, it wasn’t the most technical of fights, but it had the potential to be a barnburner. In that respect, it delivered in spades. The back-and-forth war was the embodiment of “Just Bleed” in fight form. Matt Brown left it all in the Octagon, throwing plenty of his trademark elbows in the clinch and proving that the body might slow down with age, but the warrior spirit doesn’t.

Barberena gave a good accounting of himself as well, surviving multiple onslaughts in which he appeared hurt only to pay back the damage in full. Neither man wanted to give in, even when exhaustion set in, giving the Columbus crowd and broader MMA community something to cheer about.

The fight ended with a split decision for Bryan Barberena, 28-29, 29-28 x 2 on the judges scorecards. The home crowd was none too pleased with the decision, raining down a sea of boos upon the welterweight. Barberena was all class, though, accepting the discontent from the audience graciously.

The 41-year-old Brown is constantly questioned about his potential retirement, but made no indication after the fight that he’s ready to hang them up. He believed that he had done enough to win, but was happy that he put on such an amazing show for his city.

Controversial Decision in Title Shot Eliminator: Askar Askarov vs. Kai Kara-France

It was recently announced that the UFC flyweight division isn’t ready to move past the epic that is the rivalry between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno. The 125ers will confront each other for the fourth time, currently targeted for the UFC 276 in July.

This left the top prospects in a bit of a lurch, but created a great opportunity for a title shot eliminator fight. The matchmakers delivered, pitting the relentless Dagestani grappler Askar Askarov against the sharp shooting striker from New Zealand, Kai Kara-France. Askar was ranked 2nd in the division, with Kara-France ranked 6th. Whoever won the bout was likely to set themself up for a championship fight against the winner of Figueiredo vs. Moreno 4.

Kara-France had a lot of support from the Ohio crowd, with the Kiwi determined to deliver a highly entertaining performance. Across from him, the undefeated Askarov wanted to continue his ascension to the top of the division. Both men delivered great performances.

Askarov took the first round with the kind of smothering grappling one might expect from a man from the Dagestan region of Russia. He was able to take Kai’s back and nearly secured a rear-naked choke from the backpack position. However, Kara-France put on a submission defense clinic, able to survive in a position that most others would have been tapped out in.

In the second round, the momentum shifted a bit. Kara-France was able to piece up Askarov with beautiful combinations. At one point it even looked like he might be able to get the finish as he was tagging Askarov against the fence. Like Kai in the previous round, Askarov was able to survive, getting the fight into the final round.

The third round was like a microcosm of the entire fight. Askarov was able to work his grappling earlier, but Kara-France defended well and eventually started getting his licks in on the feet. It was a back-and-forth, extremely even round, making the judge’s job that much harder. Going into Bruce Buffer’s announcement, there was an expectation that there might be another split decision.

Ultimately, the judges gave Kai Kara-France the unanimous decision, 29-28 x 3, with him winning the 2nd and 3rd rounds on all of the judge’s scorecards. He asked for the title shot in his Octagon interview with Daniel Cormier, and barring a 5th matchup between Moreno and Figueiredo, that’s very likely the next fight for Kai Kara-France.

Notable Finishes From UFC Fight Night Columbus

There were quite a few decisions on the night, but also some memorable finishes. The most spectacular came via technical knockout in the bantamweight bout between Chris Gutierrez and Danaa Batgerel during the prelims. Gutierrez lost the first round, but was able to find a home for a perfectly-placed spinning backfist. He dropped Batgerel to the canvas and finished the fight with elbows.

That marks 7 consecutive victories for Gutierrez, who is likely to get a large step-up in competition for his next bout.

Alexa Grasso also had a complete performance against Joanne Wood, finishing her opponent via rear-naked choke in the very first round. She’s now won 3 consecutive fights in the UFC women’s flyweight division. A matchup against a top-5 opponent could be in her future sooner rather than later.

The only other finish not mentioned was Aliaskhab Khizriev rear-naked choke victory against Denis Tiuliulin in a middleweight prelim bout.

Final Thoughts

It’s great to see the UFC traveling again after the pandemic era. The energy from the crowds has been electric, whether it’s London, Columbus, or Houston. While the UFC Apex did a fantastic job of keeping the sport going during the pandemic, it’s clear that the fans are incredibly appreciative of the fact that the UFC is making the rounds around the USA and abroad.

UFC Fight Night Columbus did an admirable job following in the footsteps of UFC London, arguably the greeting Fight Night card in the promotion’s history. A return to the Nationwide Arena in Columbus seems inevitable for the UFC, as the atmosphere only added to the carnage in the Octagon.

UFC fans will have to suffer a weekend off this coming Saturday before UFC 273 goes down on April 9th from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

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