Two high profile matchups are announced for upcoming battle cards, and my first thoughts on the two are below.
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 champion 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 occurring in lightweight. After dropping a choice to Al Iaquinta in his final bout, Lee hinted he would be moving up a weight class as at age 26 he has grown from his lightweight frame. Although he will not have the size advantage he did down in 155lbs, together with his caliber wrestling skills and improved striking Lee should nevertheless be a solid competitor at 170lbs, an the UFC is throwing him to the fire in his divisional introduction against a former title challenger in dos Anjos.
Dos Anjos (28-11) is 17-9 at the UFC and has proven to be equally a elite lightweight and welterweight. But at age 34, he’s finally showing signs of a decrease with successive decision losses to Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. Losing to these fighters on paper isn’t a massive deal, but the Usman struggle was a blowout and it’s possible all of the damage has really taken it’s toll on him today. However, I’d give RDA a good opportunity to beat Lee in this battle. With Lee’s popularity and youth benefit I expect him to be put as a decently-sized favorite, making RDA an intriguing puppy play if that’s indeed true.
Luke Rockhold vs. Jan Blachowicz, UFC 239
The first bout added to UFC 239 is a good man, as former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold will move 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 from the UFC, with all of his past spells coming in middleweight. He has not competed because 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. Regardless of the long layoff, Rockhold is still a very interesting 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 ending from the UFC over Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida, Costa Philippou and Tim Boetsch. His shocking KO loss to Bisping from the group rematch in June 2016 will go down among the game’s greatest 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 going up a weight class, though that remains to be seen.
Blachowicz (23-8) is 6-5 in the UFC and also was pumped out by Thiago Santos at an expected light heavyweight title eliminator. Prior to that, Blachowicz had won four straight struggles by stoppage and was looking like a title contender. The reduction to Santos reveals his true place in the branch, as a high-end gatekeeper who isn’t quite prepared to battle to the belt. That’s why this is fantastic matchmaking from the UFC. Blachowicz is highly rated yet beatable, therefore there’s a good chance Rockhold beats him and takes his spot in the top-five, making him an immediate contender for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones if that happens. Look for Rockhold for a strong favorite heading into the particular bout.
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