UFC ANNOUNCES KEVIN LEE VS. RAFAEL DOS ANJOS, LUKE ROCKHOLD VS. JAN BLACHOWICZ
Two high-profile matchups are announced for upcoming battle cards, and my initial thoughts on the two are under.
Kevin Lee vs. Rafael dos Anjos, UFC Fight Night 151
Kevin Lee is done with lightweight as he will move up to welterweight and take on former UFC lightweight winner Rafael dos Anjos in the primary 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 occurring at lightweight. After dropping a choice to Al Iaquinta in his final departure, Lee hinted he would be moving up a weight class as at age 26 he’s grown from his lightweight frame. Though he won’t have the size advantage he’d down in 155lbs, with his quality wrestling abilities and improved striking Lee should still be a good competitor at 170lbs, an the UFC is throwing him into the fire in his divisional introduction against a former title challenger in dos Anjos.
Dos Anjos (28-11) is 17-9 in the UFC and has turned out to be equally 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 paper isn’t a massive deal, but the Usman fight was a blowout and it is possible all the damage has actually taken it’s toll on him now. Still, I’d give RDA a fantastic chance to beat Lee in this battle. With Lee’s popularity and childhood benefit I expect him to be set as a decently-sized favorite, making RDA an intriguing puppy play if that’s really true.
Luke Rockhold vs. Jan Blachowicz, UFC 239
The very first bout added to UFC 239 is a good 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 in 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, together with all his past spells coming in middleweight. He has not competed because a KO loss to Yoel Romero in UFC 221 in February 2018, along with his last victory was a TKO win over David Branch in September 2017. Despite the lengthy layoff, Rockhold is still 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 consecutive 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 sport’s biggest all-time upsets and Rockhold has really struggled since then. On the other hand, the thought procedure is that his chin should be sturdier going up a weight class, although 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 this, Blachowicz had won four straight struggles by stoppage and was looking like a title contender. The reduction to Santos shows his true place in the branch, as a luxury gatekeeper who isn’t quite ready to fight for the belt. That’s why this is fantastic matchmaking from the UFC. Blachowicz is highly ranked yet beatable, so there is a fantastic chance Rockhold beats him and takes his spot in the top-five, which makes him an instant competitor for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones if this happens. Start looking for Rockhold to be a solid favorite heading into the particular bout.
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