MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Fight Night 152, a five-round welterweight bout between Rafael dos Anjos and Kevin Lee.
Rafael dos Anjos (-120)
RDA (28-11) is the former UFC lightweight champion and sports an overall record of 17-9 in the Octagon. The 34-year-old Brazilian has had a tremendous amount of success in the UFC dating back to his promotional debut in 2008, with victories over the likes of Robbie Lawler, Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone (x2), Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz. He was one of the top lightweights in the UFC for nearly a decade, and for the last couple of years has competed as a welterweight after the weight cut to 155lbs became too much for his body to handle. Since moving up to 170lbs it’s been a tale of two RDAs. He started off his run to welterweight with three wins in a row over Lawler, Neil Magy and Tarec Saffiedine, but in his last two fights lost decisions to Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. In RDA’s defense, those are two of the best welterweights in the world, though those losses may show what his ceiling is in this heavier weight class. He’s still a well-rounded fighter and a possible future UFC Hall of Famer, but it’s possible he could be on a decline after such a long and storied career in the Octagon. With a win over Lee, though, he’ll retain his spot as a top title contender.
Kevin Lee (+100)
Lee (17-4) sports an overall record of 10-4 in the UFC, with all of his previous fights coming as a lightweight. After struggling to make weight in his last couple of fights and seeing the way his body performed while being depleted, Lee has finally made the move up to welterweight. At just 26-years-old, Lee has plenty of time to turn things around and make a title run at his new weight class. He was ultra successful as a lightweight, with victories over the likes of Edson Barboza, Michael Chiesa and Francisco Trinaldo, but after losing to Tony Ferguson and Al Iaquinta in fights where he gassed out late, he decided he had enough of weight cutting and moved up a division. We still don’t know for sure if this is a good move, but considering how young he is and how his body is still growing, it can’t hurt. Lee is a well-rounded fighter with an excellent grappling game and with a win over RDA in this fight has the opportunity to immediately become a title contender in the UFC welterweight division.
This is excellent matchmaking by the UFC brass. RDA is one of the highest-ranked welterweights but at this point appears to be a gatekeeper to the title and not a contender himself. Lee was a top contender at lightweight and we have no idea how he will fare at welterweight, but considering how talented he is and how young he is, there’s no reason he can’t have success at this new weight class. The key to victory here for Lee will be to follow the blueprint of Usman and Covington, and that’s to pressure RDA and pin him against the cage. Considering Lee typically fights a high-pressure style, this could be a good matchup for him. Lee will look to push RDA against the cage and get takedowns when he can and considering his youth and cardio advantages there’s a good chance he can follow that gameplan and get the win. I tend to lean towards Lee winning a decision and I like the underdog odds on him.
Pick: Kevin Lee wins by Decision