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UFC on ESPN+ 10 preview, predictions: Breaking down ‘Dos Anjos vs Lee’ in Rochester

Esther Lin

You can usually judge a fight card by how much (or how little) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) puts into it. Take the weigh ins, for example. If you don’t get ceremonial weigh ins, then you’re typically dealing with a shitty card.

Oh, hello UFC Rochester.

Tomorrow night’s mixed martial arts (MMA) event on ESPN+ will be headlined by a pair of displaced lightweights in the form of Rafael dos Anjos and Kevin Lee. Co-headlining the bout, thanks to the withdrawal of Neil Magny, is a compelling middleweight showdown pitting Ian Heinisch against Antonio Carlos Junior.

Before we break down the UFC Fight Night 152 main and co-main events, taking place inside Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York, take a look at the “Prelims” predictions here and here. All the odds and betting lines for this weekend’s action can be found here.

170 lbs.: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Kevin Lee

Rafael dos Anjos

Record: 28-11 | Age: 34 | Betting line: -105
Wins: 5 KO/TKO, 9 SUB, 14 DEC | Losses: 3 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 8 DEC
Height: 5’8“ | Reach: 70” | Stance: Southpaw
Striking accuracy: 1246 of 2745 (45%) | Takedown attempts: 45 of 112 (40%)
Current Ranking: No. 3 | Last fight: Decision loss to Kamaru Usman

Kevin “Motown Phenom” Lee

Record: 17-4 | Age: 26 | Betting line: -115
Wins: 2 KO/TKO, 8 SUB, 7 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 5’9“ | Reach: 77” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 687 of 1591 (43%) | Takedown attempts: 32 of 80 (44%)
Current Ranking: No. 7 (Lightweight) | Last fight: Decision loss to Al Iaquinta

I don’t understand this match up ... at all. I recognize that Rafael dos Anjos is a true fighter and wants to compete regardless of opponent, which I positively love about him both as an athlete and as a person, but sometimes a manager or agent has to protect a fighter from himself. There is absolutely no reason, financial hardship notwithstanding, for Dos Anjos to be fighting yet another wrestler who is too timid to stand and bang and will instead attempt to dump and hump his way to the win column.

Yes, I’m looking at you Kevin Lee.

I’m still trying to figure out how a fighter with Lee’s physical gifts, along with an impressive 77” reach, can only score two knockouts in more than 20 professional fights, one of which came by way of doctor’s stoppage. You can argue that he’s still only 26 years-old, but I don’t think “Motown Phenom” will ever have the striking to make him a perennial Top 5 contender in either weight class (lightweight or welterweight) and even if he continues to improve, I think there may be some confidence issues at play.

There are a couple of things to consider here. Both fighters have jumped up from lightweight and both fighters did so because of their grueling weight cuts, so don’t expect there to be much of a size advantage for either combatant. That said, Dos Anjos has been carrying around those extra 15 pounds for several fights by now, whereas Lee will have to make his adjustments on the fly. That may leave him feeling like Superman in rounds one and two and Pa Kent in rounds four and five.

Outside of exhaustion issues, I don’t see how Lee loses this fight. Dos Anjos is the better striker, hits with power, and does have serviceable wrestling, but tries to defend takedowns by throwing punches, which is why he was so thoroughly thrashed against the likes of Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman. Lee may not be on their level in terms of collegiate wrestling experience, but he’s good enough to upset the Brazilian’s apple cart and turn this into another 25-minute snoozer. With guys like Stephen Thompson and Santiago Ponzinibbio hanging around, Dos Anjos deserves better than this fight and so do the fans.

Prediction: Lee def. Dos Anjos by unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Ian Heinisch vs. Antonio Carlos Junior

Ian “Hurricane” Heinisch

Record: 12-1 | Age: 30 | Betting line: +145
Wins: 4 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 6 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 5’11“ | Reach: 72” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 55 of 95 (58%) | Takedown attempts: 1 of 7 (14%)
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Decision win over Cezar Ferreira

Antonio Carlos “Shoeface” Junior

Record: 10-2, 1 NC | Age: 29 | Betting line: -165
Wins: 0 KO/TKO, 8 SUB, 2 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’2“ | Reach: 79” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 23 of 55 (42%) | Takedown attempts: 26 of 56 (46%)
Current Ranking: No. 12 | Last fight: Submission win over Tim Boetsch

The original co-main event was expected to pit Neil Magny against Vicente Luque, right up until Magny’s urine sample went snap, crackle, pop, forcing his involuntary withdrawal from UFC Fight Night 152. While that sucks for Luque, who gets bumped down the card to face the unheralded Derrick Krantz, this is actually a more compelling fight between a pair of rising middleweights ready to make a statement in the wide-open 185-pound division.

It’s really kind of a shame how the UFC machine chewed up and spit out Antonio Carlos Junior, who has settled into his new home after starting out as a heavyweight. No matter how many wins he puts together — and it’s five straight if you're counting — any talk of the Brazilian becoming a future title contender is usually met with “lol he got knocked out by Dan Kelly” from the unforgiving fanbase. Robert Whittaker also got knocked out by “Wonderboy” after losing to Court McGee so yeah, this shit happens in MMA. “Shoeface” is one of the most dangerous grapplers at 185 pounds, evidenced by eight submissions in 10 wins.

That might be a problem for Ian Heinisch, a powerful wrestler with heavy hands, who knows a thing or two about finishes himself. “Hurricane” has ended three of his last four by violent knockout and had no problem dispatching longtime UFC veteran Cezar Ferreira in his Octagon debut. I can’t imagine his game plan will consist of much offensive wrestling, because why give the Brazilian home field advantage? Instead, Heinisch is likely to look for the big shot and that may open him up to takedowns, depending on how aggressive “Shoeface” decides to be in the wake of incoming fire.

Ordinarily I favor a fighter’s confidence in the big spot, but here it might get Heinisch in trouble. If he’s expecting to defend his opponent’s jiu-jitsu rather than avoid it at all costs, then I would not be surprised to see him waving the white flag somewhere late in the opening round. Antonio Carlos Junior is the real deal and while this fight may not be the one to prove it, sooner or later the division is going to sit up and take notice.

Prediction: Carlos Junior def. Heinisch by submission

There you have it. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 152 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time of 8 p.m. ET.

To see who else is fighting at UFC Fight Night 152 click here.

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