Four reasons you can't afford to miss UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Daukaus this weekend on BT Sport

After a memorable year of MMA on BT Sport, we’ve got one last fight card of 2021 coming your way as Derrick Lewis takes on Chris Daukaus from the UFC APEX. Here are five reasons you won’t want to miss it.

By George Mills Published: 18 December 2021 - 2.01pm

Just like that, another year goes racing by here on BT Sport but we’ve got one last fight card of 2021 to bring you – and it could be a cracker from the UFC APEX.

Headlined by two hard-hitting heavyweights, Derrick Lewis vs Chris Daukaus, there’s also a feast of fights to look forward to from an intriguing main card as well as some sneaky good action on the prelims to sink your teeth into.

So without further ado, here are four reasons to tune in to the UFC for the final time this year.

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The Black Beast brings big heat

Anyone even remotely familiar with Derrick Lewis’ approach to fighting knows what to expect when the popular Houston fighter strides into the Octagon on Saturday night.

Lewis has 12 UFC knockouts to his name – a heavyweight record in the promotion – and is second only to former champion Frank Mir for the most total finishes in UFC heavyweight history.

A four-fight win streak was ended in disappointing fashion last time out as Lewis came up against French technician Ciryl Gane for the interim title, only to lose via TKO in the third round.

“Fighting in your city, sometimes it can make or break you... the nerves got to me”
- Derrick Lewis

Speaking to UFC.com earlier this week, Lewis, in a rare moment of sincerity from the man ordinarily renowned for his comedic outbursts, admitted he struggled to live up to expectation on a career-defining night at UFC 265.

 “I didn’t think I would be that much of a nervous wreck being here, fighting in Houston — I didn’t think it would take a toll, make a difference in the fight, but it really did. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again any time soon,” he said.

“Fighting in your city, sometimes it can make or break you, and I believe that the build-up to the fight really broke me. The nerves really got to me because I wanted to really perform very well for my city. It would have meant a lot.”

However, four months on, the 36-year-old has the chance to end the year on a high and secure his top five ranking heading into 2022 with a return to form against a dangerous contender this weekend.

Will we see a swift resumption of Lewis’ destructive ways – or will there be another speedbump on his quest to return to the top?

From cop to the top

Chris Daukaus can put the cherry on top of a vintage 2021 by securing his third victory of the calendar year to extend his perfect start to life in the UFC when he faces former heavyweight title challenger Derrick Lewis this weekend.

Daukaus, a former police officer in his native Philadelphia, has seemingly burst on the scene from nowhere over the past 18 months to be on the cusp of becoming a serious contender in the heavyweight division.

Four straight knockouts during that time have helped considerably with the 32-year-old pocketing performance bonuses in each of the last three.

But in Lewis, a seasoned veteran of the Octagon and lethal knockout artist, there’s no doubt Daukaus will be facing the stiffest test of his career yet.

And he knows it too, telling SiriusXM’s Jimmy Smith of his opponent on Saturday: “He’s a very well-rounded guy.

“He knows what he’s doing in there. He knows how to fight people and he knows how to finish people. He’s an extremely dangerous guy no matter whether he’s five second in or whether there’s five seconds left in the fight.

“I think he’s got more power than Francis [Ngannou, UFC heavyweight champion].”

But for all Lewis’ power, he has been stopped himself on multiple occasions and the brick-fisted Daukaus is well capable of ending the fight on own his terms at any point.

Can Daukaus cap a stunning 18 months by securing a spot in the top five ahead of a pivotal 2022?

Crossroads at welterweight

An interesting piece of matchmaking sees two top 10 welterweights collide seeking to bolster their credentials for a bigtime fight in early 2022.

Two-time 170lb title contender Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson returns to the Octagon for the first time since being outgrappled by jiu-jitsu supremo Gilbert Burns in July – but the 38-year-old is out to prove he’s far from done in the fight game.

The mild-mannered karate maestro spoke to The MMA Hour after signing a new multi-fight deal with the UFC this week, promising to write another few chapters yet in one of combat sports’ most impressive careers.

“I’m kind of surprising myself. I have always loved fighting, but I never thought that I would be where I am today and still feeling the way I do.

“Obviously, that has a lot to do with the coaches and the way I’m training so hats off to those guys. I want to break records, man. I wanna be the oldest guy who ever fought in the UFC. They are going to have to bring out a senior division or something. It’s the plan.”

However, plans change – and a fired-up Muhammad will be out to remind Thompson the fight game is a cruel mistress.

It’s a fact the 33-year-old knows only too well after an accidental eye-poke saw the biggest fight of his career consigned to a no-contest against Leon Edwards earlier this year.

Thankfully Muhammad recovered and defeated veteran grappler Demian Maia in June and the 33-year-old Chicago man will be out to end the year on a high against another big name in the welterweight division.

Veteran violence

A sneaky pick to steal the show this weekend sees two featherweight legends face off in what promises to be a thriller to kick off the main card as Cub Swanson takes on Darren Elkins.

Swanson is 2-1 in his last three fights after falling to a first round TKO against rising featherweight contender Giga Chikadze last time out but the California man will be determined to return to the win column to end the year on a high.

‘Killer Cub’ has been involved in his fair share of memorable scraps in recent years and his appearance this weekend marks almost five years to the day since his incredible battle with Doo Ho Choi at UFC 206.

There’s a good chance we could see something similar go down this weekend with Swanson’s opponent no strange to a good barnburner either.

Elkins, aptly nicknamed ‘The Damage’, has made a name for himself as one of the toughest men in the sport, dragging opponents into deep water using superhuman stamina and durability.

The 37-year-old has enjoyed something of a mini renaissance in recent times too after, halting a four-fight losing skid to claim back-to-back wins heading into this one.

Championship honours are probably no longer the motivation for either of these two warriors at this stage in their career but there will be no shortage of desire for a victory this  Saturday night that would go a long way to securing another few fights in the promotion during a busy 2022 ahead.