The next of the UFC’s featured ESPN+ events is set for this Saturday, May 18, at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York. UFC Fight Night 152 is the name and the headline bout of the evening is an exceedingly crucial welterweight clash that will see Rafael dos Anjos welcome Kevin Lee to the 170-pound division.
Last week we correctly predicted the winner of Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but it’s one that we’re probably lucky to have cashed in. Andrade earned a second-round knockout despite early adversity to become the new UFC women’s strawweight champion.
This week, we’re here to bring you the best betting advice for Rafael dos Anjos vs. Kevin Lee and touch on all of the critical factors at play in this main event bout.
Let’s get started.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Kevin Lee
For Rafael dos Anjos, this is a chance to throw him into title contention once again. For Kevin Lee, it’s an opportunity to make a statement in his debut in the welterweight division.
Rafael dos Anjos
Rafael dos Anjos is currently on a two-fight losing streak that shouldn’t be of any concern. The former lightweight champion lost consecutive bouts to skilled wrestlers, Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman. Usman now reigns as the division champion whereas Covington is next in line for a shot at the title.
Covington and Usman represented what is arguably the greatest threat to dos Anjos’ game – forward pressure and elite wrestling.
On the back of an impressive five-fight winning streak in 2016-2017, Lee propelled himself into an interim lightweight title fight against Tony Ferguson. For a moment there, it looked as if Lee would be the first in a long time to defeat “El Cucuy” as he slid into full mount and started raining down heavy ground and pound shots. However, it all unraveled in round two and three as Lee started to fatigue.
He’s now entering this fight after losing to Al Iaquinta, a disappointing effort that came not long after he battered and bruised Edson Barboza worse than current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov managed to.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Kevin Lee odds
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Kevin Lee breakdown
In many ways, Rafael dos Anjos represents a perfect challenge for the newcomer to the UFC’s welterweight division. After notable success at lightweight, Kevin Lee will immediately discover his position and potential within the 170-pound division in this weekend’s main event.
A first read of this matchup would suggest that Kevin Lee has all of the same attributes and abilities that have troubled him in previous matchups with skilled wrestlers such as Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman. While that is certainly a reasonable point of entry for any analysis ahead of this main event, it’s without consideration of several critical factors that are sure to play a part throughout these five rounds.
Lee’s most apparent pathway to victory in this fight is on the mat and he does have the required takedown ability and top pressure to cause trouble for dos Anjos for periods. Lee can secure takedowns from shots in open space or from the clinch, meaning that he has a variety of ways to take dos Anjos down. On the mat, Lee is a skilled back-taker who typically looks to lock up the body triangle and then pursue the rear-naked choke finish. The body triangle position can be brutal in the sense that it can drain energy while also limiting options for escape from the dangerous position. Lee’s best chance will be to finish this one via ground and pound or the rear-naked choke.
However, dos Anjos is not an easy opponent to drag down to the mat and he’s quite capable while on the floor. The fights with Covington and Usman certainly don’t speak to RDA’s ability to defend takedowns, but again, they – like Lee – are high-level wrestlers.
Dos Anjos will need to earn Lee’s respect early in this fight in the same way that Al Iaquinta did in his recent victory against Lee. If dos Anjos can move forward and push the pace against Lee, he’ll not only be in his preferred world of fighting, but be limiting Lee’s options to lead and change the flow of the fight.
RDA doesn’t have much to fear when moving forward against Lee. His pressure is superb and he excels at close-range fighting. If Lee looks to enter the clinch, he’ll likely get punished every time by RDA’s masterful control of the position and creative striking.
If Lee hopes to move past RDA on Saturday, he’ll need to set a blistering pace from start to finish and disallow RDA from moving forward. To do this, he’ll need to show fans a type of endurance that we haven’t seen from him in recent fights.
The best play here is to take Rafael dos Anjos to win as his probability of winning appears to be greater than what the current odds suggest.
Bet on Rafael dos Anjos to win: -111 at 5Dimes
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Jake is a mixed martial arts reporter from Australia. At WagerBop, he merges his appreciation of combat sports and a strong passion for analytics to uncover betting opportunities for readers.