Two high-profile matchups are announced for upcoming fight cards, and my initial thoughts on both are under.
Kevin Lee vs. Rafael dos Anjos, UFC Fight Night 151
Kevin Lee is performed with lightweight as he will move up to welterweight and take on former UFC lightweight winner Rafael dos Anjos in 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 at the UFC with all of his previous bouts taking place at lightweight. After dropping a choice to Al Iaquinta in his final departure, Lee hinted that he would be moving up a weight class as at age 26 he has grown from his lightweight frame. Although he won’t have the size advantage he did down at 155lbs, with his caliber wrestling skills and enhanced striking Lee should still be a solid competitor at 170lbs, an the UFC is throwing him into the flame in his divisional introduction against a former title challenger in dos Anjos.
Dos Anjos (28-11) is 17-9 at 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 those fighters on newspaper is not a massive deal, but the Usman fight was a blowout and it’s possible all of the harm has really taken it’s toll on him today. Still, I’d give RDA a fantastic opportunity to beat Lee in this battle. With Lee’s popularity and youth advantage I expect him to be set as a decently-sized favorite, making RDA an intriguing dog play if that’s indeed the case.
Luke Rockhold vs. Jan Blachowicz, UFC 239
The very first bout added to UFC 239 is a great one, as former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold will proceed 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 the bout.
Rockhold (16-4) is 6-3 overall from the UFC, with all his past spells coming at middleweight. He hasn’t competed because a KO loss to Yoel Romero at UFC 221 at February 2018, along with his final success was a TKO win over David Branch in September 2017. Despite the long layoff, Rockhold is still an extremely intriguing addition to the UFC light heavyweight division. It wasn’t that long ago when Rockhold was the best middleweight on the planet when he won five straight fights by finish from the UFC over Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida, Costa Philippou and Tim Boetsch. His shocking KO loss to Bisping in the group rematch in June 2016 will go down as one of the game’s biggest all-time upsets and Rockhold has really struggled since then. On the other hand, the thought procedure is that his chin ought to be sturdier moving up a weight class, although that remains to be seen.
Blachowicz (23-8) is 6-5 in the UFC and and was recently knocked out by Thiago Santos in a potential light heavyweight title eliminator. Prior to this, Blachowicz had won four straight fights 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 battle for the belt. That’s why this is good matchmaking from the UFC. Blachowicz is highly ranked yet beatable, therefore there’s a good opportunity Rockhold beats him and takes his place from the top-five, making him an immediate contender for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones if that happens. Start looking for Rockhold to be a solid favorite heading into this particular bout.
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