Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight contenders Rafael dos Anjos and Neil Magny will scrap this Saturday (Sept. 9, 2017) at UFC 215 from inside Rogers Arena in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
“RDA” went on a serious tear at Lightweight, going on an incredible win streak that saw him capture and defend the title in violent fashion. All good things must come to an end, however, as a pair of losses set the Brazilian back and sent him to Welterweight, where he’s looking to reestablish himself.
For the first time in a long time, Neil Magny is coming off a layoff. Not a terribly long one, but Magny made his name in the Welterweight division by fighting every couple months. Magny will attempt to jump back into the swing of things here, as well as add a pretty big name to his resume.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man.
Rafael dos Anjos
Key Wins: Tarec Saffiedine (UFC Fight Night 111), Anthony Pettis (UFC 185), Ben Henderson (UFC Fight Night 49), Donald Cerrone (UFC on FOX 17, UFC Fight Night 27)
Key Losses: Eddie Alvarez (UFC Fight Night 90), Tony Ferguson (UFC Fight Night 98), Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC on FOX 11)
Keys to Victory: Dos Anjos is a pressure fighter. The Brazilian cuts off the cage, walks his foe down, and attacks with a barrage of heavy punches and kicks. Once his opponent is shelled up, “RDA” will switch levels with a big double leg and bring his jiu-jitsu skill into play.
Since Neil Magny is a lanky fighter who likes to stab from the outside, that pressure will be key here.
On the feet, dos Anjos will likely have a major advantage. Despite all his range and activity in kickboxing, Magny has proven reasonably easy to hit. Much of the time, he wins on the feet because his opponent cannot match his pace and tires, not because of a technical edge.
Dos Anjos’ conditioning has looked great for the last few years, so that shouldn’t be an issue.
While pressuring and working past the jab, I’d like to see dos Anjos rely on his low kicks. Magny is a tall fighter with skinny legs, the type that can easy be knocked off-balance if forced to absorb a hard kick. If dos Anjos can land a few of them, he can hamper Magny’s lateral movement and make it easier to get in range.
Key Wins: Kelvin Gastelum (UFC Fight Night 78), Johny Hendricks (UFC 207), Hector Lombard (UFC Fight Night 85), Tim Means (UFC Fight Night 40)
Key Losses: Demian Maia (UFC 190), Lorenz Larkins (UFC 202), Sergio Moraes (UFC 163)
Keys to Victory: Magny’s game comes down to a great combination of length and conditioning. He’s not the best at any one aspect, but Magny can wrestle for days and throw a hundred punches for round without much of an issue. That breaks guys down, especially since they have to expend energy trying to chase him down.
The best area of Magny’s game is his clinch work. Thanks to his long arms, Magny is able to secure a lot of leverage with the body lock. Against Kelvin Gastelum — a very difficult man to take down — Magny repeatedly forced Gastelum to the mat with the body lock or wiggled his way to Gastelum’s back as his foe tried to remain balanced.
Against a former Lightweight in dos Anjos, that is very likely his key to victory. Khabib Nurmagomedov is a different wrestler than Magny, but “RDA” still struggled with his combination of size, clinch takedowns, and top control. Magny has those same skills and advantages, and he should look to replicate that performance.
Bottom Line: It’s a very important bout at 170 lbs.
Interestingly, we recently learned that dos Anjos was something of an alternate for Demian Maia back at UFC 214, which means the UFC already has him quite close to a title shot despite his inexperience at 170 lbs. If “RDA” wins here, there’s a chance he’s pushed into a title fight sooner than later, as there’s no clear next fight for Tyron Woodley. The same could be said of Neil Magny, who has been a top 10 fighter for a decent amount of time now. If he wins big, there’s also a chance the UFC throws him in there opposite “T-Wood.”
Win or lose, at least either of these two would push the pace and force a fight.
On the other hand, a loss here is a lost opportunity. The path to the title won’t be clear for too long, as motivated contenders like Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman are rising quickly. Plus, other veterans — see Stephen Thomson vs. Jorge Masvidal — are ready to jump back into the mix.
At UFC 215, Rafael dos Anjos and Neil Magny will battle in a pivotal Welterweight bout. Which fighter will remain standing when the dust settles?