Welterweights collide in The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale on Friday night in Las Vegas with both fighters desperate to make a case to challenge current 170lbs king Tyron Woodley.
While The Ultimate Fighter may have gone under the radar for most people, the headline fight atop the card is an intriguing affair and provides a stern challenge for both men involved.
Former UFC lightweight and interim welterweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos (28-10) looks to prove himself worthy of another crack at the title against a tricky opponent in Kamaru Usman (13-1)
DOS ANJOS LOOKING TO MAKE AMENDS
Dos Anjos last fought in June in an interim championship bout against Colby Covington that saw his 3 fight winning streak come to a halt after he was outclassed on the night by a tough and durable opponent in Covington.
Now, Dos Anjoa is hoping to make amends for the loss and show the fans and the UFC brass that he deserves to be in contention for another crack at the title against current champion Tyron Woodley.
In order to that, he will have to get past a tricky customer in Kamaru Usman which has proven an impossible task of late.
“THE NIGERIAN NIGHTMARE” HOPING TO MAKE DREAMS COME TRUE
Usman has been on an incredible streak and last tasted defeat way back in 2012 and has impressed fans with his crisp and fluid striking and has knocked off some of the welterweight division’s biggest names including Demian Maia in his last fight.
The Nigerian is aiming for the stars and confidence is sky high right now and he knows that an impressive performance on Friday night could potentially see him in the mix for a title fight.
STRIKER VS GRAPPLER
Stylistically, these two pose very different threats which is why fight fans love differing styles to add to the pot.
Dos Anjos does have some nice crisp boxing and showcased some incredible combinations in his fight against Robbie Lawler not too long ago. However, his strength lies in his BJJ and his ground game is second to none with 9 submission victories to his credit.
The Brazilian has stood and traded with brawlers in the past but Usman poses a lot of problems and presents with some beautiful angles particularly when following up after throwing the initial jab.
It’s with these quick angles that Usman has disorientated opponents in the past and continues to improve with every passing fight. With 6 KO/TKO victories on his resume, it’s very clear that he is confident on the feet.
Both fighters have a lot riding on this fight but pressure is likely to fall on the shoulders of Dos Anjos who needs a win to keep him in contention atop a very stacked division at 170lbs. New contenders are emerging all the time and Dos Anjos will need to ensure that he is still in the conversation.
That’s not to say that Usman has no pressure on him, of course he does. A win for him should cement his place for a title shot which will take his win streak to nine for the 31 year old.
Usman is likely to look to bait Dos Anjos into a boxing match but Dos Anjos has been around the block enough times to know when an opponent has the better skills in that area so look for him to naturally dive for a leg and take the fight to the mat and look for a slow grind to sink in any potential submissions.
However, Usman has a significant reach advantage over Dos Anjos and closing the distance to secure such takedowns is easier said than done and with Usman’s elusive footwork, it could be a tricky and challenging night for Dos Anjos.
As cliched as it sounds, fights start standing and this is where Usman has the advantage in the fight. If Dos Anjos can’t get an early takedown to disrupt the offence of “The Nigerian Nightmare” it will be a long night for the Brazilian.
The reach advantage has to play a factor here and Usman’s unorthodox striking is a nightmare scenario for anybody even for somebody of Dos Anjos’ credentials.
Usman has been going about his business and should get the job done on Friday night.
Kamaru Usman via decision