UFC Fight Night: Dos Anjos vs. Lee – Preview

A closer look at the main event of the evening, as the UFC returns to New York.

As the Octagon pays a visit to Rochester, New York, this weekend, two former lightweight contenders are set to square off in an attempt to bounce back from their recent losses.

Former lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos (28-11), now ranked at No. 3 in the welterweight division, will step into the Octagon for the sixth time in his new weight class as he is set to welcome the latest lightweight to welterweight transfer, Kevin Lee, into the division.

Both fighters enjoyed fruitful spells in the lightweight division in the past. RDA of course is the former champion, and Lee’s five fight win streak earned him an interim title shot back in Oct. 2017 (Sub. Loss to Tony Ferguson).

However, the grueling weigh cuts eventually became too much for both competitors, and here we are today, ready to watch them go at it with 15 extra pounds in each corner.

The 34-year-old Dos Anjos entered the welterweight division with a bang. The Brazilian looked ever so impressive in his first three outings, recording three impressive victories and earning himself an interim title shot.

Since then, RDA has lost the eventual interim title fight to Colby Covington — later followed by another loss to the current welterweight king, Kamaru Usman.

Dos Anjos has found himself in a similar position before after losing two fights in a row at 155 before deciding to move up. But this time, there is a little less room for maneuvers, and RDA will need a victory against Lee in order to keep his spot at the top of the division rankings.

For Kevin Lee, the move up to welterweight comes after weight management issues of his own. Those issues eventually began to show in his performances, and as a result, “The Motown Phenom” will enter the Octagon on Saturday having lost two of his last three fights.

But all things considered, those losses may end up not being such a bad thing for the Michigan native.

Lee looked in better shape, and arguably healthier than ever during Friday’s weigh ins. In addition, he appeared to be quite a bit bigger than his opponent as both fighters hit the scales. So, going by the things visible to the naked eye, it would be fair to assume that Lee will carry a significantly increased punching power into the cage this weekend. This may prove to be vital against an RDA who has been thriving in stand-up exchanges since his move up to welterweight.

On paper, this is an exciting matchup, as stylistically, both fighters essentially cancel each other out.

Lee has excelled on the ground throughout his UFC career so far — racking up four submission wins in his still very young career. But Dos Anjos is no stranger to rolling on the mat himself, as he possesses a third-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu.

Standing up, as previously mentioned, RDA has looked right at home since moving up to 170. He has enjoyed the increased power of his own that comes with the lesser weight cut, while also being more precise with his striking since making the switch. On the other hand, Lee has proved to be a very capable striker himself, and his untested power and size at welterweight is not to be underestimated.

Long story short, this fight could really go anywhere, and it will likely be the concentration and minor details that will determine the winner. But with the bad blood building up between the two as of late, and both fighters needing a win, this fight of the night contender is one you may not want to miss.


Sports journalist based in CA, USA. Twitter: @ArionArmeniakos

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