Welterweight contenders Rafael dos Anjos and Kamaru Usman squared off in the tournament finals tonight (Friday, November 30, 2018) from inside the Pearl Theater at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, live and free on Fox Sports 1.
Rafael dos Anjos was the underdog against the stifling wrestler that is Kamaru Usman. The Nigerian Nightmare came out strong, landing a stiff jab, then shooting in. dos Anjos stuffed his takedown and moved back into space, landing an elbow on the break. Rafael and Kamaru traded in the center of the cage, throwing heavy leather, before Usman shot in and put dos Anjos on the mat. RDA stood up, a patient look on his face. Usman put in some clinch work, pinning him against the cage and landing body punches and knees. They threw elbows at each other and broke away. Dos Anjos whiffed a high kick past Usman’s skull. Usman moved in, threw a couple heavy hooks, and tried for a single-leg. Dos Anjos defended, landed a short knee to Usman’s head, and went down. He shrimped to the cage and tried to stand, landing a big upkick on Usman as the Nigerian postured up, but Usman remained in top position for the remainder of the round.
Usman backed dos Anjos up again in the second, working his way to the clinch. Dos Anjos threw a knee and tried to get clear of the cage, but couldn’t manage it. Usman alternated between body punches and shoulder slams, then dropped for a single, dragging dos Anjos off the cage and putting him on his back. Dos Anjos want in hard on a kimura, but Usman shifted his weight to prevent him from really cranking it. Dos Anjos kept it, though, readjusted, and used it to flip Usman over and get up. He kept getting backed into the cage, though, and Usman pushed into the clinch again. He broke away, and dos Anjos threw an elbow and a jumping knee, while Usman slung leather back his way to close out the second round.
The third round kicked off with dos Anjos circling and Usman holding the center of the cage. Usman kneed his way inside and landed a couple body shots, then unloaded with big bombs as dos Anjos stood with his back to the cage exchanging with him. He stepped into the clinch, taking RDA down. The Brazilian tried to stand, but Usman sucked his legs out from under him, putting him back down. Usman landed a knee as dos Anjos did finally stand. Usman landed a couple solid punches, ate a couple kicks, ducked under and landed another takedown with his robot Martian strength. Rafael dos Anjos found his base and tried to reverse, looking for his own takedown against the cage. Usman countered him and stuffed it, putting RDA back on all fours in the front headlock position. RDA stood, but found himself pinned against the cage again. Usman traded knees with dos Anjos before they broke. RDA whiffed on a head kick, landed a left straight and ate one in return. Usman was looking fairly fluid on the feet, ducking under a punch to shoot in again as the round ended.
They traded punches to start the fourth, dos Anjos landing some but eating some too. Usman was working a nice jab, backed dos Anjos up and landed several heavy hooks. This is the best his striking has looked against elite competition. He took dos Anjos down again effortlessly. Dos Anjos had no answers on the mat as Usman floated on top, applying smooth pressure, as was his wont. The Nigerian Nightmare landed a couple hard punches as RDA got to all fours and stood, only to go down again immediately as Usman flattened him out and landed heavy elbows. Usman controlled him with the wrestler’s cradle, then stood above him, landing hammerfists to the head and body. He remained on top through the end of the round.
Usman tried an axe kick in the fifth round, then got RDA to the cage and unloaded a six-punch combination on the former lightweight champion. He dragged dos Anjos down again got to the wrestler’s ride, forcing dos Anjos to a seated position against the cage. Dos Anjos stood, eating short uppercuts on the inside. Usman kept him pinned against the cage, landing short punches to the body, then changed levels and took him down again. Dos Anjos tried to find a last-minute guillotine, but Usman passed into side control, then postured and began slamming hammerfists down on dos Anjos. He clearly wanted a finish, but dos Anjos, ever tough, forced him back into guard and even landed a short elbow from the bottom. Usman hammered away with a minute left, and stayed on top until the final bell.
Usman thanked Rafael after the bout, calling him a tough guy, but said he’s a man on a mission and coming for that strap. He shouted out mentor Rashad Evans. He said he’s tired of the talk, but said he hopes he’s done enough to show he has earned the next shot at the title.
Official result: Kamaru Usman def. Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision (50-43, 49-45, 48-47)
For complete TUF 28 results, including play-by-play, click here