Two high-profile matchups have been declared for upcoming battle cards, and my initial thoughts on the two are below.
Kevin Lee vs. Rafael dos Anjos, UFC Fight Night 151
Kevin Lee is performed with lightweight as he will move up to welterweight and choose on former UFC lightweight winner Rafael dos Anjos at the main event of UFC Fight Night 151. The event is set for May 18 at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York.
Lee (17-4) is 10-4 in the UFC with all of his previous bouts occurring at lightweight. After dropping a decision to Al Iaquinta in his final bout, Lee hinted that he would be moving up a weight class as at age 26 he’s grown out of his lightweight framework. Although he won’t have the size advantage he’d down at 155lbs, together with his caliber wrestling abilities and improved striking Lee should still be a good competitor at 170lbs, an the UFC is throwing him into the flame in his divisional debut against a former title challenger in dos Anjos.
Dos Anjos (28-11) is 17-9 in the UFC and has turned out to be both an elite lightweight and welterweight. But at age 34, he is finally showing signs of a decrease with consecutive decision losses to Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. Losing to these fighters on newspaper isn’t a huge deal, but the Usman struggle was a blowout and it is possible all the damage has really taken it’s toll on him now. However, I’d give RDA a good opportunity to beat Lee in this fight. With Lee’s popularity and childhood benefit I expect him to be put as a decently-sized favorite, making RDA a fascinating dog play if that’s really the case.
Luke Rockhold vs. Jan Blachowicz, UFC 239
The first bout added to UFC 239 is a great one, as former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold will move up to light heavyweight to shoot on Jan Blachowicz. The card takes place July 6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto broke news of this bout.
Rockhold (16-4) is 6-3 overall in the UFC, with all of his previous bouts coming in middleweight. He hasn’t competed because a KO loss to Yoel Romero in UFC 221 in February 2018, along with his final victory was a TKO win over David Branch in September 2017. Despite the long layoff, Rockhold remains a very intriguing addition to the UFC light heavyweight division. It wasn’t that long ago when Rockhold was the best middleweight in the world when he won five straight struggles by finish in the UFC over Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida, Costa Philippou and Tim Boetsch. His shocking KO loss to Bisping in the group rematch at June 2016 will return among the sport’s biggest all-time upsets and Rockhold has really struggled since then. However, the thought procedure is that his chin ought to be sturdier moving up a weight class, though that remains to be seen.
Blachowicz (23-8) is 6-5 in the UFC and and was recently knocked out by Thiago Santos at a potential light heavyweight title eliminator. Prior to that, Blachowicz had won four consecutive struggles by stoppage and was looking like a title contender. The loss to Santos shows his true place in the division, as a high-end gatekeeper who isn’t quite ready to fight for the belt. That’s why this is good matchmaking from the UFC. Blachowicz is highly ranked yet beatable, so there’s a fantastic opportunity Rockhold defeats him and takes his place from the top-five, which makes him an instant contender for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones if this happens. Start looking for Rockhold for a solid favorite heading into this particular bout.
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