Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is just one day away from the upcoming UFC Vegas 78 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, which is set to go down tomorrow night (Sat., Aug. 12, 2023) on ESPN and ESPN+ from inside the promotion’s APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring a welterweight main event between established 170-pound veteran Vicente Luque and former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, a five-round headliner with major title implications for late 2023 and beyond.
Before we dive into the main and co-main events, which includes the featherweight scrap between Cub Swanson and Hakeem Dawodu, check out Patrick Stumberg’s breakdowns for the UFC Vegas 78 preliminary card — which he wrote while sitting in the front row at the Oppenheimer movie — by clicking here and here. For the latest “Luque vs. Dos Anjos” odds and betting lines courtesy of our fiscal friends over at Draft Kings go here.
For the rest of the UFC Vegas 78 main card predictions click here.
170 lbs.: Vicente Luque vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Vicente “Silent Assassin” Luque
Record: 21-9-1 | Age: 31 | Betting line: -105
Wins: 11 KO/TKO, 8 SUB, 2 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 6 DEC
Height: 5’11“ | Reach: 76” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.49 | Striking accuracy: 52%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 5.51 | Striking Defense: 52%
Takedown Average: 0.51 (50% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 61%
Current Ranking: No. 10 | Last fight: Knockout loss to Geoff Neal
Rafael dos Anjos
Record: 32-14 | Age: 38 | Betting line: -120
Wins: 5 KO/TKO, 11 SUB, 16 DEC | Losses: 4 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 10 DEC
Height: 5’8“ | Reach: 70” | Stance: Southpaw
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.56 | Striking accuracy: 47%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.21 | Striking Defense: 61%
Takedown Average: 2.05 (35% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 59%
Current Ranking: No. 9 | Last fight: Submission win over Bryan Barberena
Welterweight action man Vicente Luque returns to cage fighting after more than a year on the sidelines and receives top billing because he’s ranked at welterweight and Rafael dos Anjos is not, though “RDA” does hold a Top 10 spot in the 155-pound division. Luque has not missed this much time away from competition since his regional days more than a decade ago but the break was mandated by UFC doctors, thanks to a brain hemorrhage suffered in his knockout loss to Geoff Neal at UFC Vegas 59. That loss marked his second straight, having previously fallen to welterweight contender Belal Muhammad at UFC Vegas 51 the previous April. Those losses, coupled with his frightening medical issue, pushed Luque from dark horse contender to welterweight question mark. “The Silent Assassin” is still just 31 years old and competing in his fighting prime, but it remains to be seen how much tread is left on those Brazilian tires. As much as we celebrate his fan-friendly fighting style, it’s important to note that Luque takes just as much damage as he dishes out, eating five significant strikes for every five he lands. That makes for a good highlight reel but it’s not a sustainable strategy for the hurt business, a lesson (hopefully) learned in the Neal loss.
Dos Anjos is seven years older at 38 and belongs at lightweight, even though he despises the cut to 155 pounds. For the weekend’s contest, the former lightweight titleholder will give up three inches in height and six inches in reach, significant factors when you consider his opponent’s volume and we also have to factor in the wrestling component. In his last five wins, Dos Anjos outwrestled his opponents 21-7. In his last five losses, the Brazilian was outwrestled 28-5, suggesting that his ability to control the wrestling will greatly influence the outcome of this fight. It certainly helps his cause that Luque has been outwrestled 20-6 across his UFC career. I would expect coaches on Team Dos Anjos to prepare for the Luque we’ve been accustomed to over the years, the one who bagged eight performance bonuses including four “Fight of the Night” honors, so look for takedowns early and often. Keep in mind that Dos Anjos sports just five knockouts in 32 wins and hasn’t landed one since jaw-jacking Donald Cerrone nearly eight years back. Don’t expect conditioning to be an issue for either veteran but at the same time, it’s probably not going to be the fireworks fans were hoping for. The more likely outcome is a close decision won by Dos Anjos through well-timed takedowns and overall control time, unless Luque does something stupid and silver-platters a submission.
Prediction: Dos Anjos def. Luque by decision
145 lbs.: Cub Swanson vs. Hakeem Dawodu
“Killer” Cub Swanson
Record: 28-13 | Age: 39 | Betting line: +190
Wins: 13 KO/TKO, 4 SUB, 11 DEC | Losses: 3 KO/TKO, 7 SUB, 3 DEC
Height: 5’8“ | Reach: 70” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.68 | Striking accuracy: 50%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.73 | Striking Defense: 60%
Takedown Average: 1.09 (52% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 61%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Technical knockout loss to Jonathan Martinez
“Mean” Hakeem Dawodu
Record: 13-3-1 | Age: 32 | Betting line: -230
Wins: 7 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 6 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 5’8“ | Reach: 73” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.33 | Striking accuracy: 50%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.15 | Striking Defense: 57%
Takedown Average: 0.00 (0% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 65%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Julian Erosa
Cub Swanson has put together a long career but hasn’t really done anything with it, earning zero title shots in 12 years of UFC competition. That said, the former WEC standout has proven to be a fan favorite, thanks in part to nine performance bonuses in UFC and four in WEC, with 10 combined “Fight of the Night” honors. “Killer” also boasts wins over Dustin Poirier and Charles Oliveira, two of the biggest (and most dangerous) names at lightweight. Swanson is primarily a striker and sits at third place on the division leaderboard for significant strikes landed (1319), total strikes landed (1517), and knockdowns landed (9). Unfortunately, his submission defense is laughably bad, giving up seven subs in 13 losses. More concerning is his lack of consistency, racking up a 3-3 record across his last six and a 6-6 mark over his last 12. I thought Swanson was going to make a run in the twilight of his career after scoring recent knockout victories over Daniel Pineda and Darren Elkins, but then “Killer” inexplicably dropped to the bantamweight division, where he was summarily expelled by the legs of Jonathan Martinez. I think Swanson needs to make a statement this weekend in “Sin City” to prove he’s still a tough out at 145 pounds and not an over-the-hill featherweight cashing checks for his pending retirement.
Hakeem Dawodu jumped out to a 7-0-1 start in his MMA career and was widely-considered one of the top prospects in World Series of Fighting (WSOF), which later became Professional Fighters League (PFL). His torrid run through the 145-ranks made him a highly sought after prospect and UFC wasted little time in scooping him up once he became available. Unfortunately, Dawodu stumbled out of the gate, succumbing to a first-round guillotine in his UFC debut. What followed was a five-fight winning streak and it appeared the Canadian had finally realized his potential ... only for Dawodu to lose two of his next three. On top of that, “Mean” has only scored one finish in nine trips to the Octagon and three of his victories came by way of split decision. His most recent appearance resulted in a unanimous decision loss to featherweight mainstay Julian Erosa at UFC 279 roughly one year back. Based on his body of work, which includes the fact he’s never scored a takedown or won a fight by submission, makes him a difficult pick against Swanson. You can argue that Cub has issues of his own, but he’s the better boxer, has more experience, and can score the occasional takedown when he needs one. Unless Swanson has completely sh*t the bed at age 39, he should cruise to a sweep on the judges’ scorecards.
Prediction: Swanson def. Dawodu by decision
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the UFC Vegas 78 main card predictions RIGHT HERE.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 78 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 78 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archives here and here. For the updated and finalized “Luque vs. Dos Anjos” fight card and ESPN/ESPN+ line up click here.