MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 41, a five-round lightweight between Rafael dos Anjos and Paul Felder. The event takes place on Saturday, November 14 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Rafael dos Anjos (-170)
Dos Anjos (29-13) is the No. 12 ranked welterweight in the UFC and is returning to the lightweight division, where he was champion from 205 to 2016. The 36-year-old Brazilian joined the UFC in 2007 and has since gone on to post an 18-11 record in the Octagon. Some of dos Anjos’ most notable victories include Anthony Pettis, Neil Magny, Robbie Lawler, Donald Cerrone, Kevin Lee, Nate Diaz, and Benson Henderson. Dos Anjos is a very well-rounded fighter who has tremendous striking skills on the feet as well as a strong grappling game on the mat. He has a good chin, great cardio, and tons of experience. Although he is getting up there in age and struggled in his last couple of fights at welterweight, moving down to lightweight could be just what the doctor ordered.
Paul Felder (+145)
Felder (17-5) is the No. 7 ranked lightweight in the UFC. The 35-year-old American joined the UFC in 2007 and has since posted a 9-5 record in the Octagon with notable wins over Edson Barboza, Charles Oliveira, and James Vick. Felder is primarily a striker and he has won 10 of his 17 career victories by way of knockout. He is technically proficient and throws a high volume. As far as the grappling goes, Felder generally has solid takedown defense but he chooses to stand and trade rather than submit his opponents, having had only one career submission win in 2016. Felder has shown an incredible chin throughout his UFC career as well as the ability to go five hard rounds. I’m not sure if Felder will ever become a UFC champion, but he’s guaranteed excitement every time out.
Fight Breakdown: I love this matchup, and it’s just a shame that Felder isn’t getting much time to prepare. If Felder had a full training camp for this fight, he probably would have opened as a small favorite given his high ranking in the lightweight division. As it stands, dos Anjos opened as the favorite in this one, and I think that’s the right call. Although dos Anjos struggled a bit in his last few fights at welterweight, he’s still a former lightweight champ and one of the most well-rounded fighters at 155lbs. The last time dos Anjos fought someone the same size as him he defeated Kevin Lee by submission, so perhaps moving back down a division will be a good call. Felder, meanwhile, is a fan favorite due to his incredible standup skills and ability to go five hard rounds. Even with the short notice, I expect Felder to be quite competitive in this fight. But dos Anjos having had a full training camp to prepare will likely prove to be the edge in a five-round fight. I expect a closely-contested battle between these two veterans, but ultimately I see dos Anjos winning a decision.
Prediction: Rafael dos Anjos wins via unanimous decision