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 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 in the UFC with all of his previous bouts taking place at lightweight. After dropping a decision to Al Iaquinta in his last departure, Lee hinted that he would be moving up a weight class as at age 26 he has grown out of his lightweight framework. Although he won’t have the size advantage he’d down in 155lbs, together with his caliber wrestling skills and enhanced striking Lee should nevertheless be a good contender 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 in the UFC and has proven to be equally a elite lightweight and welterweight. However, at age 34, he’s finally showing signs of a decline with successive decision losses to Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. Losing to these fighters on paper is not a massive deal, but the Usman fight was a blowout and it’s possible all of the damage has really taken it’s toll on him now. However, I’d give RDA a fantastic chance to beat Lee in this battle. With Lee’s fame and youth benefit I expect him to be set as a decently-sized favorite, making RDA a fascinating puppy 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 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 of his previous bouts coming in middleweight. He hasn’t competed since a KO loss to Yoel Romero in UFC 221 in February 2018, and his final victory was a TKO win over David Branch in September 2017. Regardless of the lengthy layoff, Rockhold remains 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 straight struggles 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 pair’s rematch in June 2016 will return among the game’s greatest 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 in the UFC and also was recently knocked out by Thiago Santos in a potential light heavyweight title eliminator. Prior to that, Blachowicz had won four straight struggles by stoppage and was looking like a title contender. The loss to Santos reveals his true place in the branch, as a high-end gatekeeper who isn’t quite prepared to fight for the belt. That is why this is good matchmaking from the UFC. Blachowicz is highly ranked yet beatable, therefore there is a good chance Rockhold beats him takes his spot in the top-five, making him an immediate competitor for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones if that occurs. Start looking for Rockhold to be a strong favorite heading into this particular bout.
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