25 Jul UFC ANNOUNCES KEVIN LEE VS. RAFAEL DOS ANJOS, LUKE ROCKHOLD VS. JAN BLACHOWICZ
Two high profile matchups have been announced for upcoming fight cards, and my first thoughts on both are below.
Kevin Lee vs. Rafael dos Anjos, UFC Fight Night 151
Kevin Lee is performed with lightweight as he’ll move up to welterweight and take on former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in the main event of UFC Fight Night 151. The episode is set for May 18 at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York.
Lee (17-4) is 10-4 at the UFC with all his previous bouts taking place at lightweight. After dropping a decision to Al Iaquinta in his final departure, Lee hinted he could be moving up a weight class as at age 26 he has grown out of his lightweight framework. Though he will not have the size advantage he’d down in 155lbs, together with his caliber wrestling skills and enhanced striking Lee should nevertheless be a good competitor at 170lbs, an the UFC is throwing him to 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 proven to be equally a 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 is not a massive deal, but the Usman struggle was a blowout and it is possible all of the damage has actually taken it’s toll on him now. Still, I’d give RDA a good chance to beat Lee in this fight. With Lee’s popularity and youth advantage I expect him to be put as a decently-sized favored, making RDA an intriguing dog play if that’s indeed true.
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 take on Jan Blachowicz. The card occurs 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 in the UFC, together with all his past spells coming at middleweight. He hasn’t competed since a KO loss to Yoel Romero in UFC 221 at February 2018, and his last success was a TKO win over David Branch in September 2017. Despite the long layoff, Rockhold is still a very intriguing addition to the UFC light heavyweight division. It was not that long ago when Rockhold was the best middleweight in the world when he won five straight fights 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 greatest all-time upsets and Rockhold has really struggled since then. On the other hand, the thought process 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 pumped out by Thiago Santos in 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 reveals his true place in the division, as a luxury gatekeeper who isn’t quite ready to fight for the belt. That’s why this is fantastic matchmaking by the UFC. Blachowicz is highly rated yet beatable, so there’s a good chance Rockhold beats him and takes his spot from the top-five, which makes him an instant contender for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones if this occurs. Start looking for Rockhold for a strong favorite heading into the bout.
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