Days before the eagerly anticipated and stacked UFC 200 card fans of mixed martial arts will be treated to a midweek warm up in the form of the Fight Night 90 event airing on July 7th, the card will be headlined by the UFC Lightweight Championship title bout contested between the reigning champion Rafael Dos Anjos and the former Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez in a fight that no doubt is worthy of a spot on the UFC 200 card.
Lets take you back to UFC on FOX December 19th 2015 which is the last time Rafael dos Anjos was seen in the octagon, after successfully defending the belt with a TKO victory over Donald Cerrone inside the first round Rafael dos Anjos tactfully called out Conor McGregor which would set the wheels in motion for a match up between the two that was to take place at UFC 196. Dos Anjos however was forced to pull out 11 days prior to the night the fight was scheduled to be contested with a broken foot, Nate Diaz stepped in as a late replacement and the rest is history.
Eddie Alvarez’s debut in the UFC octagon was coincidentally against Donald Cerrone, Cerrone came out on top of what was a very competitive back n forth fight that culminated in a unanimous decision victory for the “cowboy”, Since that loss Alvarez has defeated both Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis both via split decision to earn himself this title fight and the chance to add the UFC lightweight title to his resume.
Making the case for Dos Anjos
Dos Anjos who has a 3rd degree Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Aldo “caveirinha” Januario would posses a sizable advantage should the fight go to the ground as he is considered one of the better Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in the UFC and the most efficient route to victory for Dos Anjos’s would be to get Alvarez down and deal some ground n pound or look for a submission. Though by stating that I do not mean to discount his striking as under the tutelage of Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA, the speed and IQ of his striking has ascended to another level giving him a striking game worthy of troubling anyone in the lightweight division. If the fight should stay standing RDA would have most success when the striking is engaged at long range, Alvarez is very good at forcing his opponents to chase after him and then putting counter combinations together in the pocket so for Dos Anjos who fires everything with explosive power throwing plenty of kicks including his signature left kick to the body before engaging with punches and close range strikes should keep Alvarez guessing minimizing his opportunities to counter punch because when you don’t know whats coming its much harder to set traps and counter.
Making the case for Alvarez
If i am of the opinion that Alvarez is at a disadvantage on the ground and in grappling exchanges it makes sense that for me Alvarez needs to keep the fight standing in order to give himself the best opportunity to win the fight he has a 91% takedown defense via Fightmetric so he’s not an easy guy to get to the mat by any stretch of the imagination. In terms of style Dos Anjos has more of a stalk and power punch approach, Eddie Alvarez focuses more on foot movement, angles and lots of counter combinations making it very difficult to hit Alvarez hard without being countered as he is very effective in close range with his boxing. In order to get the best of the stand up Alvarez must move his feet and more importantly his head well when RDA comes to attack, if he can keep his opponent frustrated with feints and angles he could force Dos Anjos to get wild and if there is one criticism of Dos Anjos’s striking its the fact that he can get a little loose at times and start winging punches. Alvarez has much tighter technique when it comes to punching and because of this his punches travel a shorter distance, if he moves well distorting his opponents judgement of distance this will force Dos Anjos to reach in from out of range allowing Alvarez ample opportunity to score.
I see Alvarez giving the champion something to think about in the first few rounds if Alvarez can keep the fight standing but when assessing these two fighters i found the biggest stat to decide the winner was the amount of significant strikes absorbed per minute and significant strike defense (the percentage of opponent strikes that did not land). Dos Anjos absorbs 2.37 significant strikes per minute and his significant strike defense is 69% whilst Alvarez absorbs 3.22 strikes per minute and his significant strike defense is 58% (all stats provided by Fightmetric). Dos Anjos has the sort of power you do not want to be hit by often and looking at Alvarez’s previous fight history he has shown a willingness to exchange, for me that would be a huge mistake against this type of opponent and for that reason my prediction is,
Rafael dos Anjos wins by stoppage in round 3.