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UFC Fight Night 152: Dos Anjos vs. Lee - Predictions and Picks

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
4.70K   //    15 May 2019, 23:38 IST

Rafael Dos Anjos and Kevin Lee clash in this weekend's main event
Rafael Dos Anjos and Kevin Lee clash in this weekend's main event

After a couple of disappointing shows in the form of UFC 237 and Fight Night 151, the UFC has another ESPN+ show this weekend on tap in the form of Fight Night 152: Dos Anjos vs. Lee, and hopefully the mini-slide will turn around and we’ll get some great fights.

The show, which takes place in Rochester, New York, has some fun-sounding fights – but it has lost its semi-main event to injury as Neil Magny pulled out of his fight with Vicente Luque yesterday due to some USADA issues, giving us a thrown-together fight second from the top instead.

Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Fight Night 152: Dos Anjos vs. Lee.

#1 Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee will be making his debut at Welterweight this weekend
Kevin Lee will be making his debut at Welterweight this weekend

This Welterweight fight is a pretty fascinating one for a number of different reasons. Firstly, it’s a battle of two men who used to fight at 155lbs; Dos Anjos famously won the title there in 2015 by beating Anthony Pettis and then moved to 170lbs in 2017, while Lee fought for the Lightweight title in 2017 and this will be his first fight up at the heavier weight class.

And secondly, it poses a pretty major question: did Dos Anjos’ size cost him his fights with Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington, or does he have a weakness when it comes to pressure-fighting wrestlers?

When it comes to wrestlers who can pile on the pressure, Lee comes near the top of the list in the UFC. He doesn’t actually have the best wrestling background, but he’s got a powerful takedown, is insanely athletic and more to the point, he sets a pace that tends to wilt the majority of his opponents.

Last year’s win over Edson Barboza was the best Lee we’d ever seen; ‘The Motown Phenom’ simply forced Barboza onto his back foot and never let up, destroying him after taking him down and pounding him violently.

On the flip-side though, Lee doesn’t necessarily deal well with pressure himself. Ignoring his older losses to Al Iaquinta and Leonardo Santos – who beat a Lee who wasn’t fully developed – his recent losses to Iaquinta in a rematch and to Tony Ferguson came not by him being dominated, but by him fighting well before getting tired once his opponent turned the tide on him.

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He’s very tough – we saw him survive serious punishment from Francisco Trinaldo to come back to submit the Brazilian – but he’s definitely beatable.

‘RDA’ meanwhile appeared to be settling into a role as a journeyman before hooking up with famed coach Rafael Cordeiro and going on a real tear, beginning in around 2012. His kickboxing suddenly improved dramatically, as did his clinch work and wrestling, and coupled with an already venomous submission game, he quickly became a title threat.

The Brazilian took out the likes of Benson Henderson, Donald Cerrone and finally Anthony Pettis to win the Lightweight title, only to fall victim to the dangerous Eddie Alvarez.

RDA blamed that loss on a bad weight cut, and decided to move to 170lbs. He had some early success there – beating Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny and Robbie Lawler – but losses to Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman seemed to reveal his ceiling at Welterweight.

Essentially, he’s a great fighter when he’s pushing forward, but if you can pressure him back, get him down and unload on him, then he can be beaten – even if he’s not been stopped at 170lbs.

This fight to me then purely comes down to whether Lee copes with the move to 170lbs well or not. If it turns out that his huge size at 155lbs was the biggest thing helping his takedown game, then Dos Anjos could well capitalise on that by stopping his takedowns, maybe even taking him down instead.

And if he can do that, well, he’s a far superior kickboxer and if he gets top position then it wouldn’t shock me to see him submit Lee.

If Lee takes to 170lbs well though – and he’s had 5 months to adjust and pack on the muscle – then I can’t see him not replicating the Usman and Covington gameplan.

And while Usman is almost one of a kind in his ability to put pressure on an opponent, I don’t really think Covington is any better at it than Lee.

I’m edging towards Lee here; at 26 years old he’s still got the potential to pack on a lot of size and if he’s as big and strong at 170lbs as he was at 155lbs then sure, I can’t see RDA being able to keep ‘The Motown Phenom’ off him. Assuming Lee doesn’t make a fatal error – likely allowing RDA to get top position – then this should be his fight.

The Pick: Lee via unanimous decision

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