Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight contenders Rafael dos Anjos and Kamaru Usman will clash TONIGHT (Nov. 3, 2018) at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 28 Finale inside Pearl Theatre at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
dos Anjos’ 2017 began as a new start in a new division, one that saw him dominate three-straight fights and propel himself back into title contention. Unfortunately, the wrestling onslaught and endless cardio of Covington proved too much for the Brazilian in his interim title shot, but “RDA” still has a chance here to end 2018 in the win column. Meanwhile, Usman has been battering anyone willing to step into the cage with him, begging for a step up in competition all the while. “Nigerian Nightmare” is currently on an eight-fight win streak, so this is very possibly a title eliminator for the powerful wrestler.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Rafael dos Anjos
Key Wins: Robbie Lawler (UFC on FOX 26), Neil Magny (UFC 215), 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: Colby Covington (UFC 225), Eddie Alvarez (UFC Fight Night 90), Tony Ferguson (UFC Fight Night 98), Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC on FOX 11)
Keys to Victory: Rafael dos Anjos has one of the best resumes of all time. He has some losses on his record, too, sure, but that’s a result of a decade of combat against the best in the world in the sport’s deepest division.
dos Anjos fights best when pressuring opponents, and that’s absolutely what he should do opposite Usman. Does walking down wrestlers and throwing punches expose the hips to takedowns? Sure, but “RDA” tried to fight reactively opposite Covington and lost the fight as a result.
In addition, Usman doesn’t bring the relentless forward movement of “Chaos.” He’s more willing to trade from a distance and then shoot, rather than simply barrel forward. As such, dos Anjos should have more opportunities to land and also the chance to establish himself as the man leading the dance.
Key Wins: Demian Maia (UFC Fight Night 129), Sean Strickland (UFC 210), Leon Edwards (UFC on FOX 17), Warlley Alves (UFC Fight Night 100)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Usman is a physical beast. Very strong for the division with a deep gas tank, Usman can wrestle endlessly and has immense top pressure. Plus, his still-developing kickboxing is already rather tricky, and Usman has real power behind his punches.
Usman may not fight like Covington, but he should take a page from his book opposite “RDA.” Between the two — who will surely fight sometime soon — Covington is likely the better chain wrestler and is slightly more relentless, but Usman is far more powerful and is better at maintaining top position.
With that in mind, Usman should be able to take and keep dos Anjos down based on how the Brazilian’s fight with Covington played out. To get to that point, however, Usman has to pressure dos Anjos, backing him into the fence and limiting the Southpaw’s offense.
Bottom Line: Welterweight is a great division.
At 34 years old, this is a hugely important fight for dos Anjos. The Brazilian has a great title reign at 155 pounds, but if he’s to capture a second crown, he cannot afford any more losses to younger contenders. The loss to Covington really hurt his chances, but a second defeat would erase them.
Luckily, being the first man to defeat Usman in the Octagon would also be very significant and bolster dos Anjos’ position in the division.
Usman has been saying he’s the division’s best for a long time now, and to his credit, his work in the cage has done nothing but support his argument. “RDA” is another step up, but if it’s one that Usman can handle easily like past fights, there’s really no debate on whether or not Usman has earned a title shot.
At TUF 28 Finale, Rafael dos Anjos and Kamaru Usman will clash in the main event tonight. Which man will take another step closer to the Welterweight belt?