For most, it would sound like a nightmare.
For Kyle Daukaus, it was a dream come true.
Daukaus was offered a chance to debut for the UFC, which was his ultimate goal. He was offered a fight on 11-days notice against Brendan Allen, a ranked fighter who had won seven fights in a row.
Oh, and he also needed to drop about 30 pounds to make weight for the fight, which was going to be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
Sounds like a lot of pressure, right? Not for Daukaus.
“I wasn’t worried about cutting weight, it’s not that hard to lose 30 pounds, I lost eight pounds the last day,” said Daukaus, who lives in Mayfair. “I was ready, that wasn’t a problem. I wasn’t nervous or anything. I’ve always been confident, and once it’s fight week, I’m ready to go.”
Daukaus made his debut at the top level possible and he couldn’t have done much better without winning.
Allen won the fight by decision, but Daukaus certainly did more than hold his own. After getting caught by a knee early in the bout, Daukaus recovered to lay quite a beating on Allen in the final round. It wasn’t enough to get the win, but if you looked at the fighters following the contest, you’d have probably picked Daukaus as the victor.
But Daukaus wasn’t making excuses. Instead of worrying about the fight that was over, he started worrying about his future. And maybe worry isn’t the right word. He was starting to get excited about the future.
“I’ve lost before, never as a pro, but I lost before,” Daukaus said. “I think I was more worried about how I would react to a loss, but I felt good after the fight. I am looking forward to fighting again.”
Winning battles is nothing new to Daukaus, who fights out of Martinez BJJ in Mayfair.
When he was a junior in high school, Daukaus’ school, North Catholic, announced that it was closing before his senior year, so he wrapped up his high school days at Father Judge.
“It wasn’t too bad, I liked Judge,” said Daukaus, who played lacrosse for the Falcons. “My whole family went to North, but Judge was good, too.”
It figures wrestling would have been a natural fit for Daukaus, but that wasn’t in the cards because at the time, he had no plans for fighting.
That changed rapidly after he started practicing for his new sport when he was a sophomore in high school.
“I knew as soon as I started that I wanted to take this on and I was fully committed to it,” Daukaus said. “My brother was working out (at Semper Fi Mixed Martial Arts in Fox Chase), so I tried it and loved it.”
Unlike many fighters, Daukaus started out in mixed martial arts and later to make sure his fighting game was more well rounded, he started practicing Jujutsu.
While training, he finished high school and then went to Community College of Philadelphia. There, he might have taken his biggest step as a fighter and it had nothing to do with punching someone or choking them out.
“I started studying psychology and that really helped me get mentally stronger as a fighter,” Daukaus said. “I wasn’t mentally strong enough at the time. I was weak. I would go to the gym and compete with everyone, but I needed a little help mentally, to prepare for fighting. I started doing some self help, and that really helped me. It prepared me for this.”
His mental toughness was on full display in his first UFC fight. Even though it ended with a loss, it let everyone know that Daukaus has arrived and he will be doing everything he can to make noise in the highest level possible.
“It was a great experience fighting there because I’ve had a lot of fights at the 2300 Arena where you’d have 200 or 300 people, total,” Daukaus said. “I know there were millions watching this fight. It was the only thing going on. (UFC CEO Dana White) has done an amazing job keeping everything going. The sport is getting more popular and I think by going on through this, we’re going to have even more fans.”
Daukaus has a lot more fans now than he did prior to his fight on ESPN. But his biggest fans remain the same.
“I had some friends and family, like aunts and uncles, who would ask me if I’m still doing this, they didn’t get it was a job,” said Daukaus, who has worked at Sesame Place as a ride operator and does a little landscaping on the side. “But my family, my brother and my girlfriend, they are all really supportive. They support me. You need that. I’m lucky to have that.”
And they’ll be there for him as soon as he gets back in the cage.
It won’t be right away. After his last fight, he’s been suspended for 60 days before his next fight with no contact for 45 days because of an elbow cut he suffered early in the fight.
His foe wasn’t so lucky. He’s out up to half a year until left orbital, nasal and sinus fractures are cleared by an ear, nose, and throat doctor.
Fighters receive suspensions by the fighting outfit for injuries they suffer so they don’t return to the octagon too quickly.
But Daukaus isn’t enjoying summer break. He’s still preparing for what’s next.
“It’s hard because you can’t do anything too bad, but I’m running and trying my best to stay in shape,” Daukaus said. “I want to fight again soon. I was really happy with this fight, especially the later rounds. I felt good. That was a tough first fight, but it was a loss. I’d like to get back and fight again.”