Chris Daukaus sees his July 24 bout with Shamil Abdurakhimov as a chance to put his name next to the elite of the division.
The No. 10 ranked heavyweight will meet No. 7, Abdurakhimov, at UFC on ESPN 27 inside the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Perfect inside the octagon with three-straight first-round finishes, Daukaus is on the cusp entering a title picture after being signed by the promotion less than a year ago.
“He’s [Abdurakhimov] a name, he’s No. 7 obviously,” Daukaus said.
“I get past him, when I get past him, I put my name amongst those guys. I’m right there, top five, top seven heavyweights in the world.”
Chris Daukaus eyes top spot
Abdurakhimov already cemented his place in the top eight. The Dagestan native won three out of his last four, including victories over Marcin Tybura, Andrei Arlovski and Chase Sherman.
His only octagon losses are two top-four heavyweights Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis, as well as Bellator title challenger Timothy Johnson. Lewis is scheduled to fight the unbeaten Ciryl Gane for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 265 on Aug. 7.
The 39-year-old holds wins over Tybura and Walt Harris, both ranked in the top 15.
“The people who have beat him in the UFC are the top-tiered guys of the UFC,” Daukaus said. “I can’t wait because that just shows what I’ve been saying this whole time, it’s that I’m a top heavyweight in the world.”
With Lewis and Gane fighting for the interim title, while former light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones is waiting to make his heavyweight debut, Daukaus is unsure where he fits in the picture of the top seven.
He knows he belongs though. No. 6 Rozenstruik and No. 4 Blaydes are slated for UFC 266 on Sept. 25, leaving only former champion Stipe Miocic and No. 5 Alexander Volkov without upcoming fights.
Daukaus is opting to focus on what he can control.
“As of right now, all I can do is fight the guys who are available for me right now,” Daukaus said.
Daukaus was still outside of the UFC a year ago. In less than 12 months, he rattled off three-straight TKO/knockout wins against Parker Porter, Rodrigo Nascimento Ferreira and then-ranked Alexey Oleynik.
Daukaus is willing to go wherever the fight takes him, but wouldn’t mind another first-round knockout of course. His ability to put men away fast is what moved him up the rankings so fast.
A win over Abdurakhimov is another opportunity to advance. It’s been a whirl wind for Daukaus, but he plans on keeping it going.
“It’s kind of surreal that it all fell into place right around this time,” Daukaus said. “I’m just going to do what I have to do and come out with a win.”
Connor Northrup once covered municipal meetings and promised himself never again. He is now combining his passion for Mixed Martial Arts and reporting all into one.