Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight veterans Rafael dos Anjos and Vicente Luque will clash TONIGHT (Sat., Aug. 12, 2023) at UFC Vegas 78 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
At this stage of his career, dos Anjos is no longer fervently chasing the title. At 170 pounds, it’s been repeatedly proven that the biggest and best wrestlers in the division can handle the former Lightweight kingpin, but Welterweight is also the better division for a 38-year-old veteran trying to prolong his career at the top level. There are certainly still entertaining fights available for him, and Vicente Luque fits that descriptor perfectly. “The Silent Assassin” is one of Welterweight’s most prolific finishers, but there are concerns that consecutive losses and a bleeding brain have caused concern that Luque may no longer be at his best.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Rafael dos Anjos
Key Wins: Paul Felder (UFC Vegas 14), Robbie Lawler (UFC on FOX 26), Neil Magny (UFC 215), Donald Cerrone (UFC on FOX 17, UFC Fight Night 27), Anthony Pettis (UFC 185), Nate Diaz (UFC on FOX 13), Benson Henderson (UFC Fight Night 49).
Key Losses: Rafael Fiziev (UFC Vegas 58), Michael Chiesa (UFC Fight Night 166), Leon Edwards (UFC on ESPN 4), Kamaru Usman (TUF 28 Finale), Colby Covington (UFC 225), Tony Ferguson (TUF LA3 Finale), Eddie Alvarez (UFC Fight Night 90), Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC on FOX 11).
Keys to Victory: “RDA” has an all-time great resume. He’s been fighting nothing but elite competition for about as long as anyone can remember! A top-tier pressure fighter, dos Anjos has a well-rounded and punishing skill set that can really break his opposition down.
I don’t mean to dismiss dos Anjos’ kickboxing skills when I say that he really needs to get the wrestling going. It’s not that dos Anjos cannot exchange with Luque, but he is the smaller man with less knockout power. Furthermore, “RDA” has always been a fighter who operates at his best when all parts of his game are flowing.
Dos Anjos strikes better if he’s landed a takedown or two. It gives him an option to finish combinations safely (by ducking into the double) and helps him dictate the center of the Octagon, which is an important aspect of his game. Even if dos Anjos has difficulty keeping Luque down, he has to still mix takedowns into his offense and keep Luque honest.
Key Wins: Belal Muhammed (UFC 205), Michael Chiesa (UFC 265), Mike Perry (UFC Fight Night 156), Bryan Barberena (UFC on ESPN 1), Niko Price (UFC 249, UFC Fight Night 119), Randy Brown (UFC Vegas 5)
Key Losses: Geoff Neal (UFC Orlando), Belal Muhammad (UFC Vegas 51), Stephen Thompson (UFC 244), Leon Edwards (UFC Fight Night 107)
Keys to Victory: If nothing else, Luque is a finisher. The Brazilian has bricks for hands and a real knack for timing intercepting punches, and he’s an underrated submission ace on the canvas too.
Both of these men do their best work from the front foot, and that’s especially true of “RDA.” Therefore, it would really benefit Luque to use his size to push dos Anjos around a bit. Hopefully he can do so without just eating every shot in the process, but forcing dos Anjos back really mitigates a lot of his game.
In addition, Luque has to adjust to dos Anjos’ Southpaw stance, which has proven problematic for him in the past. A couple easy adjustments he could make would be to blast right body and head kicks early and often, as well as lead with his right hand more. In an open stance engagement, it’s more difficult to line up Luque’s favorite overhand, but that shot can still land and set up other connections if he builds further from it.
This is a massive fight for Vicente Luque, who simply must win here to remain a relevant Welterweight contender.
Luque’s last two performances simply were not his best work, regardless of the outcome. He didn’t look as sharp or quick as he has previously. The concerns that all the damage has caught up to him are justified. In this match up, Luque has an opportunity to prove that some rest and relaxation has returned him to his peak, and that “The Silent Assassin” has more to give at the elite level.
As for dos Anjos, the stakes are lower, as his days chasing the title are seemingly over. This bout will help tell us whether or not “RDA” still can challenge the Top 15, which would still be a really impressive accomplishment given how long he’s been fighting the best. If not, well, he’s been a ranked contender for a decade and has several longevity based UFC records — it has to end eventually.
At UFC Vegas 78, Rafael dos Anjos and Vicente Luque will battle in the main event. Which man will have his hand raised?
Remember that 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+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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