Chris Daukaus only has one complaint about his move from heavyweight down to light heavyweight and it comes down to the food. Making the change from 265 pounds to 205 pounds has forced Daukaus to not eat out as much, and hunker down on preparing his own meals to fuel his diet, but make no mistake, he’s still crushing all the food he prepares.
The move comes after some thought following his last three fights at heavyweight ending in losses.
“It was partly because of the losses and also just being realistic and fighting and seeing the guys I was fighting,” Daukaus said. “I was just too small. I have a better chance at 205. That was really the main driving force; these guys are just too big. I just couldn't compete with the size.”
Through the ups and downs of the sport that have come with starting your UFC career on a four-fight win streak, to dropping three in a row, Daukaus has had to make changes in his life outside of the Octagon, as well.
“It's been about keeping mentally strong and trying to stay in a positive mind frame,” Daukaus said. “When you go on any kind of social media, you get sucked back into that negativity, so I've been trying to stay off that as much as possible, all notifications off the phone, and keep in a positive mindset while working towards this goal, making 205 and getting the victory on Saturday.”
Despite all the changes that have gone on, Daukaus’ core group has remained the same and that’s something he is grateful for. Training camp has included a lot of rounds that have only gotten harder and faster as the time progressed.
This weekend, he gets to make his light heavyweight debut against Khalil Rountree Jr., who steps into the fight on a three-fight win streak after defeating Modestas Bukauskas, Karl Roberson and Dustin Jacoby. The two were originally slated to fight earlier this year at UFC 289 in Vancouver.
After his struggles in the heavyweight division, Daukaus is eager to show off his strength against the 205ers.
“I think my speed is definitely a factor, but then also with my ground game, I think I can really make a dent in this light heavyweight division,” Daukaus said. “I'm ready to go.”
Rountree is known for his striking, as he has earned seven of his 11 wins by knockout.
Daukaus’ first test at light heavyweight is also one that could have rankings implications as Rountree sits at No. 13. Facing someone with a number next to their name right off the bat is something that is a highlight for Daukaus, who was in the heavyweight rankings.
“I think that it shows confidence and belief not only in myself, but the confidence that the UFC has with me,” Daukaus said.
Whether the exchanges take place on the feet or on the ground, Daukaus is prepared to make a statement on Saturday night.
“I can't be getting into any Muay Thai exchanges with him,” Daukaus said. “Obviously, he's got a little bit better Muay Thai than me. I'm not going to discredit that, but this is an MMA fight. We'll see how it goes. If I got to grind him out for three rounds, I don't want to do that, but we'll do that.”
Earning the victory would be validation that he did everything in his camp and the move down. Winning is everything that he is looking for.
“I would just like to get another fight before the end of the year, barring any kind of crazy injuries or anything coming out of this fight, and a Madison Square Garden fight would look good,” Daukaus said. “As far as an opponent, it doesn't really matter. I just want to stay consistent. I'm not going to be jumping ahead to like number three, number four. Win Saturday and whenever the UFC calls, I just have to keep racking up wins.”
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