Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight talents Paul Felder and Rafael dos Anjos will clash TONIGHT (Sat., Nov. 14, 2020) at UFC Vegas 14 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Felder was supposedly retired, but he couldn’t resist the draw of a big opportunity. A large Lightweight with a hard weight cut, “The Irish Dragon” still jumped at the chance for a short-notice, five-round fight against a former champion. dos Anjos left the Lightweight division in 2017, picking up enough quality wins to earn an interim title shot. Unfortunately, that was the beginning of the end of his 170-pound title dreams, as “RDA” has now lost four of his last five, prompting a return to 155 pounds.
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), Kevin Lee (UFC Fight Night 152), Neil Magny (UFC 215), Anthony Pettis (UFC 185), Ben Henderson (UFC Fight Night 49), Donald Cerrone (UFC on FOX 17, UFC Fight Night 27)
Key Losses: Kamaru Usman (TUF 28 Finale), Colby Covington (UFC 225), Leon Edwards (UFC on ESPN 4), Eddie Alvarez (UFC Fight Night 90), Tony Ferguson (UFC Fight Night 98), Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC on FOX 11)
Keys to Victory: Rafael dos Anjos can really do it all. His Muay Thai is quite nasty, he’s a longtime jiu-jitsu black belt, and while wrestling may historically be something of an Achille’s heel, he’s also a really damn good wrestler!
At 36 years of age, dos Anjos can still push an absurd pace for 25 full minutes, though this will be his first time attempting to do so at 155 pounds in years.
There is a single key to victory here for dos Anjos: move forward. “RDA” has long been a tremendous pressure fighter, but he has a terrible habit of abandoning that pressure after getting taken down or clubbed hard. Felder is likely to tag him at some point, but dos Anjos has to keep moving forward.
In addition, it’s important that dos Anjos mixes it up. He’s likely been working his takedown defense in preparation for Islam Makhachev, but “RDA” is at his best when he’s firing punches and double leg shots. Against a more pure striker in Felder, the wrestling attempts could be the difference-maker.
Key Wins: Edson Barboza (UFC 242), James Vick (UFC on ESPN 1), Charles Oliveira (UFC 218), Stevie Ray (UFC Fight Night 113), Danny Castillo (UFC 182)
Key Losses: Dan Hooker (UFC Fight Night 168), Francisco Trinaldo (UFC Fight Night 95), Edson Barboza (UFC on FOX 16), Mike Perry (UFC 226)
Keys to Victory: A striker with experience in Taekwondo, Karate, and Muay Thai, Felder has really come into his own by upping the aggression and walking forward. Felder is a large Lightweight with a hard-nosed style, finishing 10 of his fights via knockout.
dos Anjos is at his best moving forward, so it stands to reason that Felder does not want to be the man fighting from his back foot. Fortunately, Felder is tough, powerful and (usually) conditioned enough not to be bullied by the Brazilian.
Opposite the Southpaw, I’d like to see Felder really work to establish his right leg. Neither fighter is particularly great with the jab, so kicks will be the range-finder. If Felder is stabbing dos Anjos in the belly with snap kicks and slamming home round kicks, it will go a long way in helping ensure his punches are also landing cleaner.
Clinching might also be a path to victory for the Philadelphia-native. Leon Edwards did great work landing elbows then disengaging, and Felder seemingly has the tools to replicate that success.
The Lightweight division is a mess, so any potential title shot talk is still far off.
Felder was so disappointed by his split-decision loss to Dan Hooker that he briefly retired. He must view this bout as high-profile — or high paycheck? — enough to return. dos Anjos is on a skid, so that would take some of the luster off a victory, but defeating a former champion in his home weight class would be a great first step back toward the title mix.
As for dos Anjos, it would have been one hell of a return to stop Makhachev’s rise. As it is, Felder would still be a valuable victory, as he’s not far removed from an excellent win streak of his own, and even his loss to Dan Hooker confirmed his top-tier status. dos Anjos could really use such a signature win for this stage of his career, otherwise he’s going to continue sliding further away from his former throne.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 14 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ 7 p.m. ET.
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At UFC Vegas 14, Paul Felder and Rafael dos Anjos will duel in the main event. Which man will earn the victory?
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