Two high profile matchups are announced for upcoming fight 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’ll move up to welterweight and choose on former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at 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 of his previous bouts occurring at lightweight. After dropping a choice to Al Iaquinta in his last bout, Lee hinted he could be moving up a weight class as at age 26 he has grown out of his lightweight frame. Though he won’t have the size advantage he did down in 155lbs, with his caliber wrestling skills and enhanced striking Lee should nevertheless be a solid contender at 170lbs, an the UFC is throwing him to the fire in his divisional debut 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. However, at age 34, he is finally showing signs of a decrease with successive decision losses to Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. Losing to those fighters on paper isn’t a huge deal, but the Usman fight was a blowout and it’s possible all the damage has actually taken it’s toll on him now. However, I’d give RDA a good chance to beat Lee in this battle. With Lee’s fame 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 good man, as former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold will move up to light heavyweight to take on Jan Blachowicz. The card takes place July 6 in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto broke news of this bout.
Rockhold (16-4) is 6-3 overall from the UFC, with all of his past spells coming at 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 remains an extremely 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 struggles by ending from the UFC over Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida, Costa Philippou and Tim Boetsch. His shocking KO loss to Bisping in the pair’s rematch in June 2016 will return among the game’s biggest all-time upsets and Rockhold has struggled since then. However, the thought procedure is that his chin should be sturdier moving up a weight class, though that remains to be seen.
Blachowicz (23-8) is 6-5 from the UFC and also was pumped out by Thiago Santos in 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 division, as a high-end gatekeeper who is not quite ready to fight to the belt. That is why this is good matchmaking by the UFC. Blachowicz is highly ranked yet beatable, so there is a fantastic opportunity Rockhold beats him takes his spot from the top-five, which makes him an immediate competitor for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones if this occurs. Start looking for Rockhold for a solid favorite heading into the bout.
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