Rafael dos Anjos (left) takes Mark Bocek down with authority last night on the UFC 154 main card. - Photo by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting
MMAmania's Brian Hemminger takes a look back at last night's UFC 154 main card bout between top lightweights Rafael dos Anjos and Mark Bocek. What key factor put the Brazilian over the top? Find out below.
Both men were elite Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelts, but it was the intangibles of mixed martial arts that made the difference in this bout.
After a brief period of stand-up, Bocek made his gameplan very evident when he shot in for a takedown. Many thought he'd have a significant wrestling advantage, but he could not put the Brazilian on his back, instead getting shut down against the fence.
While there, dos Anjos fired back with nice short strikes and forced multiple breaks, landing kicks and punches whenever there was separation.
By the second round, Bocek was already starting to wear down from the repeated failed takedown attempts and dos Anjos began to smell blood. The talented Brazilian started reversing the position and even taking Bocek down, something almost no one has been able to do in the UFC.
Dos Anjos scored with heavy punches on the ground, but he couldn't put the durable Canadian away on his home turf, instead coasting to a unanimous decision victory after three pretty dominant rounds of solid defensive and offensive wrestling mixed in with a significant striking edge.
For Mark Bocek, he came into this fight intent on taking dos Anjos down and dominating with his wrestling and top control, but when that got completely shut down, he had no significant plan to fall back to. All he could do was continue shooting in for failed takedown after failed takedown and keep getting not only stuffed but reversed. It was exhausting and he was very tired by the time the fight was over. He couldn't hang with dos Anjos in any facet of this fight, he was simply outgunned.
For Rafael dos Anjos, he has evolved so much as a fighter since making his UFC debut against Jeremy Stephens. Back then, he was simply a Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter. Now he's dangerous in all areas from his punches, his kicks, his knees, his jiu-jitsu and especially his offensive and defensive wrestling. The evolution of his wrestling was a sight to see last night as he completely denied every attempt from Bocek to take this fight to the canvas. After several runs of bad luck, he's finally put it all together and at 28 years old, he looks like a potential contender.
Dos Anjos deserves a big fight next. Potential opponents include the upcoming Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon winner, Gray Maynard if he recovers from his knee injury quick enough or perhaps he could even welcome Eddie Alvarez to the UFC in 2013.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you impressed with the evolution of Rafael dos Anjos? How high is his potential after beating Mark Bocek from pillar to post last night?