UFC Fight Night 90 Breakdown: Rafael dos Anjos vs Eddie Alvarez

Rafael dos AnjosPrior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of UFC Fight Night 90 in Las Vegas, Nevada as Rafael dos Anjos puts his lightweight championship on the line against Eddie Alvarez.   Eddie Alvarez (Record: 27-4, +345 Underdog, Fighter Grade: A) The born and raised Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native has competed against the best fighters in the division in his short stint in the UFC. In his last two fights, he was able to squeeze out close victories against the division’s elite in Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis. Beating two of the division’s top five fighters has put Alvarez into this title fight that will be broadcast exclusively on Fight Pass. A prep school All American in both boxing and wrestling, Alvarez quickly gravitated towards MMA after completion of high school making his professional debut at 19 years of age. Alvarez made his mark in Bellator debuting in the promotion’s first ever event. He fought in the promotion ten times, losing only once; in perhaps the best fight in Bellator history against Michael Chandler. Alvarez left Bellator in 2014 as the promotion’s best fighter in its young history to test himself in the UFC. Alvarez has proven to be a crafty veteran with a never say die attitude. He’s a solid wrestler with very good boxing. His skill set is well-rounded, but what really makes him an elite fighter is his heart and determination. He’s been in trouble in several fights, but knows how to fight out of bad situations and tends to get better as fights progress. Even when outmatched skill to skill, he finds ways to force his opponent into a dog fight ultimately making it very close for judges to score if it hits the scorecards. In 31 career fights, he’s only been finished three times and only once (that fight with Michael Chandler) since 2008. Durability, determination, and a well-rounded skill set is what Alvarez is.   Rafael dos Anjos (Record: 25-7, -430 Favorite, Fighter Grade: A+) The UFC lightweight champion has been on an absolute tear since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in April 2014. He’s on a five-fight winning streak which includes finishes of Donald Cerrone and Ben Henderson as well as a dominant decision win over Anthony Pettis. Dos Anjos looks to defend his championship for the second time on July 7. A third degree black in belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos has not only evolved, but perhaps improved more than any other fighter on the UFC roster over the last couple years. His training at Kings MMA alongside the likes of Beneil Dariush and Fabricio Werdum has been a big reason for the improvement in results. Rafael Cordeiro has been a catalyst finding holes for his guys to improve on. Dos Anjos footwork and cage control has been a huge upgrade. He no longer chases his opponent around the Octagon, but moves laterally to cut his opponents off and have them fighting off their back foot. It’s this high pressure style which has caused all of his recent opponent’s problems. Dos Anjos combines that with heavy left kicks and an excellent left hand. In his fight with Anthony Pettis, he combined this high energy style on the feet with powerful wrestling securing eight takedowns in the fight. Conditioning is the key to being able to employ this style of fighting. It has certainly helped that recent opponents were not a threat in the wrestling department, allowing dos Anjos to employ his optimal style of aggression on the feet.   Match-up Fight Night 90’s main event is a rare championship fight on the exclusive digital channel of the UFC. This is a really interesting style of fight between well-conditioned, aggressive fighters. Both fighters have a wealth of experience against top fighters in the division. It’s certainly not a case where the moment will be too big for the challenger. Eddie Alvarez likes to turn his fights into brawls and get his opponents into a dog fight. He does a very good job at that. Dos Anjos has seen an increase in his success by beating up on fighters that prefer to strike from distance and control range. He’s done an excellent job pressuring those type of opponents making them fight a different kind of fight. This matchup is a much different type of fight as Alvarez has no desire to fight from range. He wants to be in dos Anjos face and making it an ugly, physical contest. Furthermore, Alvarez is the better wrestler than dos Anjos. Combining his fights in DREAM and UFC, Alvarez averages nearly four takedowns per 15 minutes in the cage and does so at a 41% success clip. His defensive wrestling is excellent at stuffing 91% of takedown attempts. He was able to takedown Gilbert Melendez three times and Anthony Pettis six times. I expect this be a very competitive contest. Dos Anjos should have the advantage on the feet as he’s a much better defensive striker and should suffer less damage in the striking overall, but ultimately this fight comes down to who will be able to wear his opponent down and tire him out. There’s a reason dos Anjos is favored as he has shown to be much more dynamic in recent fights, but Alvarez is a gritty veteran who is certainly a live underdog especially at a price of +345.

Written by Jay Primetown

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