Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
Chris Daukaus is proud to call himself a UFC heavyweight and a Philadelphia police officer, but at some point in the future he realizes that one of those professions will probably have to go.
For the better part of the last decade, Daukaus has provided for his family as a police officer while he steadily climbed the ranks on the regional fight scene pursuing a second career in mixed martial arts. When the call came just over a year ago to join the UFC roster, Daukaus was incredibly excited but also knew that his life was probably going to change forever.
Now three fights into his UFC career, Daukaus is undefeated with a trio of first-round finishes under his belt. He’ll look for his biggest win to date this weekend when he faces veteran heavyweight Shamil Abdurakhimov with a chance to take a big leap upward in the rankings.
Through it all, Daukaus has been making waves in the UFC while still keeping full-time hours at his precinct in Philadelphia. Despite the long hours and grueling schedule, Daukaus still thrives in both jobs but recognizes that won’t likely last forever.
“I guess it just depends on how I feel with everything going on, if I have the correct balance,” Daukaus told MMA Fighting, “If I want to take time away from being a police officer, I have enough time where I can do that. It’s just how I feel going through training camps.
“If I feel the opponent needs extra time and I don’t have that time allotted to me with working my other career, then obviously I’ll do that. But for now, it’s business as usual. Hopefully, after this fight, I’ll have my 10 years and I’ll have my pension and I can walk away when I decide I’ve had enough with the police department.”
It might seem easy for Daukaus to just give up being a cop in order to pursue his dream of becoming UFC heavyweight champion, but police work is something that’s in his blood.
“My dad’s a sergeant in the Philadelphia SWAT unit so that’s a whole big thing,” Daukaus said. “It’s definitely more than a lifestyle. It’s a way of life for a lot of the people who are in my life, but everyone is super excited how this is going and how well I’m doing in the UFC.
“Some people — my wife — would really like it if I just focused on one job and one career. That’ll be the determining factor. We’ll see how much more busy I get with the UFC and doing promos or if I have to go out anywhere and then trying to keep up with the whole work schedule.”
Through his first year as a UFC fighter, Daukaus has still been able to strike a good balance between his family, training, and serving the public as a police officer, and that’s largely thanks to a routine he started to recycle after making his professional debut in 2013.
That’s a huge part of the reason why Daukaus hasn’t really faced any struggle while still working a full-time job and staying very active as a member of the UFC roster.
“My job is crime driven, so I spend most of the time working night work,” Daukaus said. “That’s when the statistics and everything proves when the most crime happens. So generally I do two weeks of night work, one week of day work. I’ll usually work from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“So how fight camp will work is when I’m not at work, I’m at the gym. If I’m [on] night work, I’ll be doing all my training sessions earlier in the morning, earlier in the day, coming home and spending some time with the family and then going right to work. That’s just what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years. So it’s kind of normal now.”
It is rare for a fighter at this level to still maintain a full-time job, but it can be done.
Former UFC champion Stipe Miocic has famously defied the odds by not only becoming arguably the greatest heavyweight in the history of the sport, but also doing it all while keeping his job as a firefighter in his hometown of Cleveland.
Of course, thanks to a friendly rivalry between police officers and firefighters, Daukaus can’t help but jab at the time Miocic needs at his job versus what Daukaus is doing on a daily basis.
“I don’t want to knock on Stipe but firefighters really don’t do anything,” Daukaus joked. “They just kind of just sit around and wait for a fire to happen. He can do that for whenever he wants. Sorry, Stipe.
“Firefighters do nothing all day, sit around and cook barbecue and just hang out and lift weights.”
All jokes aside, Daukaus isn’t going to guarantee he’ll ever give up his job in order to focus fully on the UFC, but he’s also taking everything fight by fight for now with his dual careers.
At the end of the day, Daukaus wants nothing more than to hoist the UFC title up over his head and celebrate becoming champion — and he’s going to do whatever it takes to get there.
“If you would have asked me how my UFC [career] would play out or my wildest dreams for the UFC, this wouldn’t be a part of it,” Daukaus said. “There’s no blueprint to a UFC career or a timeline. I’m making the most of it. I’m going out there, I’m finishing fights. I’m making people talk about me. I’m making exciting fights, fights that fans want to see. Why do people tune into heavyweight fights? They want to see big knockouts and finishes and that’s what I’m trying to give the people.
“If that makes me more popular with everyone, great, and if that obviously lines my pockets even more and gets me to the ultimate goal of the belt, then I’m all for it.”