UFC Fight Night 152 returns to Rochester tonight on ESPN+ featuring Rafael Dos Anjos vs Kevin Lee. Dos Anjos (28-11), a 34-year-old Brazilian fighting out of Huntington Beach, California, has lost two in a row. Kevin Lee (17-4), 26, who is based out of Las Vegas is making his move up in weight after dropping two of his last three.
Also on the card, tonight is Vicente Luque, winner of four straight. He’ll get a tough welterweight matchup with Neil Magny. A rising women’s bantamweight star, Aspen Ladd will try to stay unbeaten against Sijara Eubanks.
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Share Share UFC Rochester predictions tweet share Kevin Lee (pictured) fights Rafael dos Anjos in the welterweight main event of UFC Rochester on Saturday Esther Lin, MMA Fighting Rafael dos Anjos and Kevin Lee meet Saturday in a main event matchup at UFC Rochester that will have major implications for the next stage of their careers.
While dos Anjos has already proven how competitive he can be at a higher weight class after moving up a division two years ago, this will be Lees first UFC fight at welterweight. Lee has long campaigned for a 165-pound-division, an idea that Dana White has all but dismissed, so if he has to settle for 170 then a win over dos Anjos will be pivotal to convincing everyone (including himself) that welterweight is the right place for him.
On the other side, dos Anjos will look to avoid a third straight loss, which would be the longest skid of his 14-and-a-half year career. He needs to defeat Lee to stay in the title mix at 170 pounds.
The originally scheduled co-main event between welterweights Vicente Luque and Neil Magny was spoiled when Magny announced that he failed a USADA test earlier this week, bumping Luque down the card and moving a middleweight bout between Antonio Carlos Junior and Ian Heinisch into the penultimate spot. Carlos Junior has emerged as a dark horse contender at 185 pounds, having won five straight fights including three by rear-naked choke, while Heinisch impressed in his UFC debut last November with a unanimous decision win over Cezar Ferreira.
In other main card action, former Invicta FC featherweight champions Megan Anderson and Felicia Spencer collide, Luque takes on short-notice replacement Derrick Krantz, lightweights Charles Oliveira and Nik Lentz meet in a trilogy bout, and lightweight submission specialist Davi Ramos takes on newcomer Austin Hubbard.
When: Saturday, May 18. The seven-fight preliminary card begins at 5 p.m. ET on the ESPN+ streaming service and the six-fight main card continues at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
By now, the formula for defeating the welterweight version of Rafael dos Anjos is clear: Strong wrestling, relentless pressure, and keep that chin tucked in tonight. Thats essentially the approach that both Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman used to stifle RDA and the results were undeniably positive for them.
Lee was a big lightweight, but he doesnt have the same height nor mass of Covington or Usman. He also hasnt shown that he shares their endless stamina. However, one could argue that Lees cardio took a hit due to his draining cuts down to 155, so how his energy levels hold up as this one enters the later rounds will be an important factor to keep an eye on.
It is just so hard to keep dos Anjos down, even for someone like Lee who is a beast in top control. And a longer fight could favor dos Anjos given that hes gone a hard 25 minutes in four of his last six fights (though he lost three of those encounters). In the event that Lee has to stand with dos Anjos, hes shown too many defensive deficiencies in his striking to be trusted to win that battle.
Unless Lee can effectively wrestle dos Anjos against the cage and on the mat or maybe catch dos Anjos with something early, I see dos Anjos winning on points here.
Antonio Carlos Junior seems to have moved past the issues with consistency that plagued his UFC beginnings (knock on wood). That said, for a guy who has won five straight, the matchmakers arent doing him any favors by matching him up with Ian Heinisch, a relative unknown who quietly put together a 12-1 record competing primarily in the higher tiers of regional MMA.
In Heinischs last fight against Cezar Ferreira, he proved he could hang with a veteran by using his wrestling to keep the fight standing and gut out a win. Hell need to employ a similar game plan against Shoeface, who isnt as effective as Ferreira on the feet, but is far more deadly on the ground. Should Heinisch decide to mix in takedowns to keep Carlos Junior guessing, hell have to be extremely careful to avoid falling prey to one of Carlos Juniors python-like chokes.
Short, controlled combinations on the feet will be key to Heinisch pulling off the upset here. If he lets Carlos Junior get a hold on him too easily, it will be a wrap for him. Shoeface is just too strong to mess around with when it comes to grappling.
Unbeaten in six pro bouts, Felicia Spencer could give Megan Anderson some unfortunate Holly Holm flashbacks. Spencer is nowhere near as accomplished a striker as Holm, but its entirely possible that she follows the example of The Preachers Daughter and uses a steady diet of takedowns to neutralize Andersons exciting offense. Anyone who has seen Spencer can tell you that she is an absolute bully of a featherweight. Shell be looking to close the distance, tie Anderson up, and make this one ugly.
Its frustrating that we really havent been able to see what Anderson can do inside the Octagon. Her bout with Holm saw her outworked by a more seasoned opponent and her bout with Cat Zingano ended prematurely when a kick from Anderson caused a freak eye injury. She was a wrecking ball in Invicta and theres plenty of reason to believe that her ability to effectively use those rangy limbs of hers can still make her a champion in the UFC.
That run starts on Saturday, where Andersons superior striking will allow her to score from distance and piece Spencer up in close. Shell find a finish in the first or second round.
There are several physical and stylistic similarities between Vicente Luque and Derrick Krantz, which makes this a risky fight for Luque. Fortunately, Luque proved in his war with Bryan Barberena at UFC Phoenix that hes fine wading into deep waters and hes not just a frontrunner.
D-Rock has been doing damage in LFA for some time now and were it not for the fact that hes taking this fight on less than a weeks notice, Luque is an ideal matchup for him from the perspective of sheer entertainment value. Krantz has won 21 fights by knockout or submission, Luque has not needed the scorecards in any of his eight UFC wins.
While it would be fun to pick Krantz to shock the world here, especially if he can lure Luque into a coin-toss slugfest, it doesnt seem wise to pick him when hes had almost zero time to prepare for Luque, who isnt the type to overlook an opponent under any circumstances.
Count me among the many wondering why this matchup is even happening. Not necessarily because its some gross mismatch, but because Charles Oliveira has so little to gain from beating Nik Lentz again. And he has a lot to lose, including a four-fight win streak that has the gifted grappler on the verge of finally becoming a legitimate contender.
Though Oliveira won their rematch back in May 2015 by third-round submission, it was no gimme fight. Lentz has seen it all in the cage and hes always been difficult to put away. With nothing to lose, hell bring the fight to Oliveira from the opening bell and make life hell for Do Bronx in the early going.
Dont expect Oliveira to wilt under the pressure. Its only a matter of time until he finds an opening to take Lentz down or even pull guard so that he can work his unrivaled submission game. That constant threat will give Oliveira the edge for as long as this one lasts.
These two produced Fight of the Night performances in their previous two encounters. Repeating that again is a lot to ask, but it should be a fun one that ends with Oliveira extending his record for most UFC submission victories.
Davi Ramos has yet to be truly tested inside the Octagon since dropping to lightweight. Hell have his hands full with the debuting Austin Hubbard. How Ramos fares here will go a long way towards helping the matchmakers figure out whether hes ready for a step up in competition.
Hubbard brings solid boxing to the table. Hell punish Ramoss body if The Tasmanian Devil is sloppy with his clinch work or if he lets Hubbard cut off the cage. Ramos isnt afraid to stand and bang himself, but hell be far more inclined to turn this into a grappling bout. If he takes Hubbard down, he can wear down the Elevation Fight Team product known for having excellent cardio.
As mentioned, this is a test for Ramos, who has bulldozed his last two opponents. I dont see that happening here, though I do see him getting the win either via late submission or decision.